HYBRID SOCIETY: A Hypothetical Solution to Societal Inequalities
An Introspective look at the Perfect Society through the Lens of Cerebral Thinkers
Is it possible to unite two adjacent towns that have contrasting class structures? I was appointed to help merge the towns of Pleasantville and Williamsburg. My task is to create a harmonious environment in this new town. Williamsburg's population is made up of largely minorities, while Pleasantiville's population is predominantly white. Pleasantville is affluent while Williamsburg puts on a facade of improvement, yet poverty still dominates over the population. In terms of education, Pleasantville regularly has representatives from Cornell University scouting for top students, while Williamsburg has mostly community colleges knocking on its broken doors. This is no easy task and certainly not feasible for one person, so I brought in some of the greatest minds the world has ever seen; Martin Luther King Jr., Plato, Jonathan Kozol, Adam Smith, Aristotle, Karl Marx, John Locke and Vandana Shiva. While I couldn't reach these thinkers, I attempted to stay within context of their philosophies, teachings and language. I invited these thinkers to a conference regarding the future merger of Williamsburg and Pleasantville. Unfortunately, those who are still alive had prior engagements and those who are deceased were also surprisingly busy, and so, the debate became purely hypothetical. The thinkers, however, did give me permission to borrow their voices as long as I remained faithful to their respective spirits and their uses of language. In an effort to do this accurately, I have drawn on the actual words these individuals wrote to help support the ideas they would have put forth had this debate occurred. These are only excerpts from a larger argument. I believe that the most difficult issue to solve is class; and by solving class we can solve other issues such as education and gender issues.
Education is a subset of class because it helps determine set wages and socioeconomic status. Education is also essential to the future of a society, as society can only progress can only evolve if people understand their environment and the teachings of their society. In Pleasantville, the education system is strong and competitive, producing annual ivy league bound students at a consistent rate. Furthermore, Pleasantville boasts an exceptional lacrosse team that receives scouts from division one colleges looking for top athletes. Hence, through sports scholarships, educational excellence can be pursued at a collegiate level. On the other hand, Williamsburg suffers from a lackadaisical student body and the environment is partly to blame. These children don't have much opportunity or hope as a result of the poverty they live in. Other than sports, the young adults in Williamsburg sometimes regress into drugs or related illegal behavior while others struggle to make ends meet working in menial jobs. I decided that it was imperative to first discuss education for these reasons, because it should serve as the foundation for any society. It is up to the younger generation to carry on the society, economy and education, among other things. The following are the education transcripts taken from our hypothetical discussion
Anthony: I'd like to thank you all for coming. We're here to discuss several issues that are pertinent to the merging of Pleasantville and Williamsburg. Since we can't possibly write out every single law at the present moment, we can lay the groundwork for this new society with amendments expected in the future. By the end of this discussion, we should have spoken about discussed education, class, and gender roles in this new society. I could've sworn one more person was supposed to arrive, well let's press on and start with education.
Plato: In considering the youth, as I say in my Republic, “the beginning of any process is most important, especially for anything young and tender .... It's at that time that it is most malleable and takes on any pattern one wishes to impress on it” (192). The youth are very impressionable so we must be careful in how they are taught.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Amen. I believe that we must first look at the sort of school institute we will carry out. In my "Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” I state that "Anyone who lives in the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere in this country" (King, 85). We are all brethren in this great nation, whites, Spanish and Negroes among other categories of race. The Lord created us all equal, and hence we are entitled to the same privileges and rights. We need to make sure, then, that just as no one in this country should feel alienated, nor should the children at these schools. Children should smile upon each other and drink in each other's differences with curiosity, not hatred.
Jonathan Kozol: I concur, Dr. King. I met, in my excursions through New York City, a young girl named Pineapple in the South Bronx. She even asked me, as I mention in my book Shame of the Nation, "what's it like .... over there where you live?" (15). These children in Williamsburg suffer in the same helpless ignorance; they don't know what its like in an affluent middle-class community. They are neglected and therefore have no fire to succeed in life. As I point out:
It might be very different if these kids had known white children early in their lives, not only on unusual occasions but in all the ordinary ways that children come to know each other when they go to school together and play games with one another and share secrets with each other and grow bonded to each other and by those thousands of small pieces of perplexity and fantasy and sorrow and frivolity of which a child's daily life is actually made. (Kozol,18)
In this, I was talking about how the children at a Catholic school in the Bronx are in awe when they go to Manhattan and see white people. They don't know how to respond and are afraid to even talk to them. Even with the retreats this school went on, very few interracial friendships were made or even lasted. In Williamsburg, though there are few white children, there is still a heavy minority population present. Pleasantville, of course, is the exact opposite.
Anthony: I believe that we can begin by having integrated pre-schools; that way races are more comfortable with each other,and the divide between the races can be, at the very least, diminished significantly. We can implement this by deeming one of the recreation centers the official one in this new town. To carry this into elementary school and so on, names of students can be drawn randomly from different sectors of the town, so it can maintain the desired racial diversity. It will be beneficial if the pre-school were also in the elementary school, that way the children can become accustomed to how their next school runs.
Jonathan Kozol: Well, the busing issue is very complicated. Bear in mind that busing children for hours on end just to get to a particular school eats away at time for the children to play and be active. Although I believe in the education of the children, playing is quintessential in their education. There are many social problems that arise and it is imperative these children learn their social skills on the playground along with simply acting like happy children. If we are to do this, busing must be taken into account seriously.
Martin Luther King: While I sympathise with Mr. Kozol's brilliant argument, I still feel that there may be some small but necessary sacrifices to create the world and life we envision for these children.
It was settled that we'd try to have integrated pre-schools. After hearing Kozol, it made sense that if there were small biases growing inside these children at a young age, these prejudices and word repetition] will escalate into a wider gap and even stereotypes. These children may grow up believing rumors or stereotypes about other races and not being interested in getting to know them. When we are young, we're open-minded to many influences, and this is the time when racism must be met before it can manifest itself. Still, Mr. Kozol's point about busing and the need for children to have fun were not missed in the crossfire of conversation. We went on to discuss the later stages of schooling and how to help children who need more attention or guidance in deciding their careers.
Jonathan Kozol: What of the later stages of schooling? How can we motivate these children to work hard and believe they'll have equal opportunities?
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Couldn't we offer internship programs around the community? Having an internship in perhaps local government, stores, medical or law offices. It will bring meaning to these young men and women in hopes they can make something of themselves. Give these children the opportunity to create their potential and paint their own horizons.
Anthony: In fact, this is true. Pleasantville is full of medical and law offices, and Williamsburg does have many stores, public buildings and theaters.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: As I was saying, not only does this promote interest but also employment skills at the job. Colleges are certainly intrigued by such qualifications. Children become motivated with things that they are good at and there is no better way for them to find that than from offered internships. The benefit to those who offer the internships is that these children can be doing it for free, since this is through the district. It also encourages racial diversity in the workplace, something that unfortunately becomes an afterthought in most of the jobs in America today. Yet, internships are only as good as the students that receive them. Since it's typical that the students who win these accolades and awards are honors students, it is critical that there be a sharp honors program that hones in academic skills.
Though honors programs are ubiquitous, we wanted our honors program to be on a full scale that had never been seen before. I wanted every high school senior involved in some sort of internship because I didn't want anyone to feel no one was looking out for their future. You can tell a child you're concerned for his future, but by giving him the opportunity to look for his niche in life through your guidance is a much more candid approach. These students would feel that they can succeed at anything they want to do, because we've given them the tools for them to start building their dreams. This debate would soon touch points on having an honors program and providing equal opportunity in education.
Plato: If you want an honors program, the purpose must be to create balance and rhythm in the child. From what I can see, these children from both towns are relatively out of balance and haven't played “ the right games from the beginning and absorb lawfulness from music and poetry” (217). Doesn't it make sense that children need balance? Anyway, in terms of music, I also state
that education in music and poetry is the most important ... rhythm and harmony permeate the inner part of the soul more than anything else, affecting it most strongly and bringing it grace, so that if someone is properly educated in music and poetry, it makes him graceful, but if not, then the opposite. (205)
These children must also be in balance and be able to express themselves effectively. Whether it's mentally or physically, this kind of balance will serve them the rest of their life as they become well-rounded citizens of this community.
Jonathan Kozol: Eh, they could possibly use balance, but perhaps in a more logical format for the advanced children. I believe that anyone who wants to take honors programs should be allowed to. If you're motivated and believe you can handle the work, there's nothing that should stop you from doing that. However, my education agenda is first and foremost to let these children experience joy and play in school. If these children are inundated with work for honors classes and are suddenly thrown carelessly into adulthood, it could have severe psychological repercussions.
Anthony: Those are all great ideas, gentleman, so we'll incorporate them all. I personally believe children who are not at their appropriate grade level should be involved in an after-school program notwithstanding whether or not they want to do it. There should not be any discrimination when it comes to this, for everyone should have equal opportunities to education and help. I believe children should have the choice of taking honors programs with nothing holding them back and that after-school programs are essential building blocks for those who are struggling. However, we can improve upon this method by requiring high school students for one quarter of the year to be ”teacher aides”, that way children who need help but may not be vocal about it have more personal help. The benefit for the teachers can be they can earn a bonus based on if their class does excellent on state exams. For the parents of the children who need help along with the children themselves, both must sign a form consenting that the child will attend one or twice a week, depending on what the teacher believes suitable. However, as previously stated, we must bear in mind the necessity of these children to have time to themselves to create social skills and have sufficient play time. Since the foundation is laid out for the ideal school, how should we integrate the schools?
From the beginning, I was very adamant about after-school programming for children. Though conventional, I wanted to seek out different ways to accomplish this and make it a requirement to graduate high school. Also, this works as a benefit to the “teacher's aid” as he or she may discover a passion for teaching or at least become a well-rounded person or even start private tutoring for the particular child in need. Of course, what still remained was equalizing the school so that the wealthy and poor were both benefiting from this merger of two school systems.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: It's hard to educate others that aren't of your race. We can only depict what we as Negroes have gone through, as I illustrate in my letter,
When you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park ... and see tears welling up in her little eyes that Funtown is closed to colored children ... and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people. (King, 88)
This goes back to what Anthony mentioned previously. We cannot allow differences of race to jeopardize the educational process or biases that will not allow people to lead unbiased lives. We need to be sure we understand the complexities of racism and how, despite movements against it, generation after generation seem to fall into racism's sand pit and cannot seem to get out of it. It disturbs me to consider the day to day bigotry that insists on drowning the progressive movements for racial integration. Children are very easily influenced, and simple racial issues that transpire at a young age will flower into anger in adolescence. We must be sensitive to all races, and ensure that no one gets preference over anyone else. We could sell some of the middle schools and high schools and build a school in a more neutral area.
John Locke and Adam Smith have been whispering feverishly to each other. Observing their quiet debate, Anthony motions to John to speak up.
Anthony: What do you believe, Locke?
John Locke: Well, it seems to me that land has become a big priority here. What will you do about the rich? What of those who have worked hard and desire top-notch school districts?
Adam Smith: Yes that's true, those who work hard for what they earn shouldn't be punished by a lesser state of living.
Anthony: The rich. Hmmm. Well, we aren't necessarily taking anything away from them just yet. If we do combine the resources of the poor and rich I don't see how the school will suffer. We need to convince the rich of the benefits of doing this how their tax dollars are going to good use. Through this, we can get parents of all different economic backgrounds to to interact with each other for homework assignments or even help if even they don't understand exactly what their child is doing.
Jonathan Kozol: Involving parents in a school system is a great way for the two classes to meet each other and hopefully get to know each other in an interested and cordial fashion. If these parents get to know each other, they may be more comfortable allowing their children to go through the same school district.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Yes. The children as well as the parents must realize that we are all related to one another regardless of race, as I pointed out before. This is cited in my letter,
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives in the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere in this country. (King,85)
Our actions are all connected to each other. How we treat each other, and what we each go through effects those around us. If these children are educated about these topics, there should be little to no racism. Of course, we should take certain measures to combat the media and the outside influences that can diminish our efforts. We must liberate these children from racism's hold on society. There's a Bible passage in Exodus which expresses this remarkably,
Therefore, say to the Israelites: I am the LORD. I will free you from the forced labor of the Egyptians and will deliver you from their slavery. I will rescue you by my outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment I will take you as my own people, and you shall have me as your God. You will know that I, the LORD, am your God when I free you from the labor of the Egyptian. (Exodus 6:6-7)
I believe this can happen, for we are all brothers and sisters in the eyes of the Lord. Though not as poignant as it was during the days of slavery or what the Jews went through in Egypt, it's evident that racism is still prevalent in this society. We're seeing it now talking about class structure and education.
Anthony: Racism can sometimes be fueled by those who have versus those who have not. If we can give these children a common foundation, perhaps they can relate to each other more easily. A computer in every household can propel these children to do better with homework but moreover create social networks. A second goal should be getting the parents more involved are two steps we can take to further break barriers in race and get the races to embrace each other with a mutual respect.
Plato: What's a computer?
Anthony: Well it's a technological device.
Plato: What's a technological device?
Anthony: Well, it's something innovative and typically runs on electricity.
Anthony: You know what? I promise I'll get you a computer if you just sit tight.
Plato: Does Zeus know about this computer? And I don't know about your electricity, but none are as powerful as Zeus' lightning bolts.
Taking a deep breathe while profusely rubbing his forehead, Anthony motions to Adam Smith speak.
Adam Smith: I really haven't said too much about education, but before we wrap this section up, what about role models for the children? Children try to emulate those who are famous or rich, just as I say in my Theory of Moral Sentiments,
This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue; and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is often most unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages. (Smith,86)
Basically, I'm saying that we often venerate the famous and rich way too much. We regard these descriptions as similar if not higher than wisdom and virtue. People save their contempt for the poor, believing that money and being famous is what makes the good life along with good people. I agree with Dr. King because, as I can see in this time, the “media” certainly has a grip on society, particularly with the younger generation. In this new town, we must educated these children not to idolize these people. The famous entertainers who this society glamorizes is not perfect at all. In fact, “We see frequently the vices and follies of the powerful much less despised than the poverty and weakness of the innocent. To deserve, to acquire, and to enjoy the respect and admiration of mankind, are the great objects of ambition and emulation” (Smith,87). As this society seems to act, people are much less forgiving of the famous than of the innocent. If an actor cheats on his wife, it's more negligible than if the local police chief does the same abhorrent act. People must be reminded that earning the respect of others is one of the trademarks that society should be built around. It's dangerous to copy these men, as I state that “The profligacy of a man of fashion is looked upon with much less contempt and aversion, than that of a man of meaner condition” (Smith,87). It doesn't pay to copy these famous rich people especially if you don't have the means for it. If people don't seek out their own identities, then they'll succumb to trying to be someone they are not and will never be. The “limelight” must be placed on education and personal relationships rather than glossy magazine covers or famous entertainers.
Anthony: If the children can't look up to those who are artificially glamorized and offer no morals or principles, perhaps we need the children to be exposed to the local heros around our community. We could have a speaker once a week on a Friday talk about what he or she does in our town to help it run. As far as these sometimes lascivious entertainers are concerned, regulations can be enforced to make it difficult for children to purchase questionable material such as music with explicit lyrics along with viewing movies with adult content. These mediums can have an immense effect on a child and numb them to certain graphic images or language. Teaching morals and proper behavior will become repetitive so that as the children grow up they look up to those who illustrate the very behavior they've been brought up to practice.
Plato & Aristotle: Yes!
Plato: You're ensuring that the children learn certain things and not others, another of my viewpoints on education.
Aristotle: And you're teaching the virtue of practicing good habits. A habit is created through repetition of an act, and it must be supported if it is a good act. However, the individual ultimately makes the choice to repeat in this behavior, as others can only offer support or influence in the decision making. for as I speak of in my Ethics,
It is hard work to find the intermediate; for instance, not everyone, but only one who knows, finds the midpoint in a circle. So also getting angry, or giving and spending money, is easy and everyone can do it; but doing it to the right person, in the right amount, at the right time, for the right end, and in the right way is no longer easy, nor can everyone do it. Hence doing these things well is rare, praiseworthy and fine. That is why anyone who aims at the intermediate condition must first of all steer clear of the more contrary extreme ... For one extreme is more in error, the other less. Since therefore, it is hard to hit the intermediate extremely accurately, the second-best tack, as they say, is tot take the lesser of the evils. (Aristotle, 212)
What I mean by all of this is that the person who strives to be moderate is one who all should strive to be like. It's essential to practice the good habits of the venerable, intelligent and morally equipped. Of course, we're all human and extreme behavior is always creeping around us; it waits for us to indulge in it. Therefore, we must aim at the opposite extreme rather than the middle. For example, if you're a raging alcoholic, you should aim to being totally sober. Of course, an alcoholic would think a moderate drinker to be sober, and visa-versa with a sober person. This system of thought can be likened to education because these children must learn about practicing virtue, for unlike Plato, I believe this kind of virtue cannot be learned in a classroom. Those who do terrible at school must shoot for the highest amount of focus and work in hopes they can settle in the middle. Be sure to teach these children about moderation in pleasure and in all facets of life. These children should lead a balanced life however, as playtime is essential. Nonetheless, studies are most important in unraveling the potential of a child.
I decided from this the children should meet the leaders and outstanding people of the community along with live a structured but balanced life. It's essential for any youngster to have role models to look up to, since it's the only point in their life that adults are looked at as much more than human. These beliefs must be shaped in just the right manner so that these children must not only respect their elders but see the difference of morals on a local level and the kind of people the media gives attention to. There would be a lot of hustle that went through this, arguments over tax-dollars and such, but with presentations and discussion, we were able to pass all of these things through. Children are now earning more extra help after school with students from the high school that are required to help. Even more so, these high school students are well-rounded in the subject since they picked what their strongest subjects were. If a high school student has the most success in a math class, he can concentrate on that with the elementary or middle school student. We were able to get computers in every house and hooked up to our school system. As a result, we're able to get the word out faster about school events, which interest parents and receive quick feedback from parents about problems or suggestions. The pre-school system is working magnificently too, as the children are starting to grow up with a lower tendency to being closed-minded and interacting exclusively with their own race. In terms of practicing behavior, each week we had a speaker come in who did a job around the community that sometimes we often overlook because he or she isn't wealthy or not on television. This coupled with enforcing codes of behavior ensured these children would be influenced by positive messages and hopefully not look up to those who were famous and rich but weren't role models or worthy of praise. We also tried to instill an ideal of moderation among our students, showing them what can happen when we eat too much or have too much fun through workshops. Our next issue would be exactly how we closed education, the always difficult problem of class. How can we get all classes to get along and ensure everyone has equal opportunity?
Karl Marx: Anthony, while I can understand the racial tensions brewing in America today, I strongly believe that it's class you need to worry about. As I say in my Communist Manifesto, “ The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” (158). We need to bear in mind the kinds of class struggles the poor have fought against the wealthy.
John Locke: I believe I can interject an idea for the rich. People want to be compensated accordingly to what their labor is valued at. As I've said in my writings, people are entitled to a great life, liberty and of course property. We must be cautious in how much we take away from a man's labour. A man is entitled to the product of his labour, and it's a natural right that he should enjoy that. A man is also entitled to a government that can take care of him having relinquished his rights from the state of nature, although that's for another day.
Adam Smith: I've been fairly reserved this whole time; let's see what I can propose. I believe what Locke is trying to say is that people are motivated by self-interest. What is self-interest? Perhaps an excerpt from my Wealth of Nations can shed some light. I state, concerning the idea of self-interest,
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. (Smith,23-24)
We are all in a race for the almighty dollar. We're all out for our own self-interest, our needs. One of these needs is money. It is out of this interest for ourselves that we wind up helping those around us in our society.
Anthony: It's true that out of our self-interest we wind up helping those around us indirectly. The question is how to integrate people of all racial classes to at least intermingle with each other. A tax break always interests the rich who are taxed the hardest, and would interest anyone, for that matter. We could perhaps suggest a tax break for community service, which could help propel friendships of different races. A step further could entail offering race relation or sociology classes at the town center to help better educate everyone on different races and classes.
Plato: Now hold on. (Sigh) Must I walk down to Pireaus again (to enlighten you)? As mentioned in my Republic,
When one of us hurts his finger the entire organism that binds body and soul together into a single system under the ruling part within it is aware of this, and the whole feels the pain together with the part that suffers...the same can be said about any part of a man, with regard either to the pain it suffers or to the pleasure it experiences when it finds relief. (Plato,236)
In that respect, I believe that is how a town should act. This community must feel together regardless of stature or race for that matter. If there are those that don't want to follow the community, then they must go. In regards to class, there aren't two classes but three. There are the producers namely the laborers and then the protectives, which are the warriors and lastly the guardians or the philosopher kings. Now ...
Anthony: Plato, we're in modern times.
Plato: Please don't interrupt. You don't believe that I am learned in your society? I state in the Republic, ”The result, then, is that more plentiful and better-quality goods are more easily produced if each person does one thing for which he is naturally suited, does it at the right time, and is released from having to do any of the others” (Plato,188). Wouldn't you agree that this new hybrid town of yours should be a place where the fit are to rule, and everyone does what they are meant to do?
Plato: People who are meant to do certain things, they're not only educated towards it but probably have innate skills in it, correct?
Plato: Isn't it logical then to ensure, for the sake of your town, that these children are of the best quality?
Anthony: Yes ...
Plato: As I cite in my Republic, “The best men must have sex with the best women as frequently as possible, while the opposite is true of the most inferior men and women, and, second, that if our herd is to be of the highest possible quality, the former's offspring must be reared but not the latter”. (235) It's important to provide the best gene pool possible so that our community can be progressive instead of regressive. Do you want a community full of idiots or one in which breads competent leaders and brilliant scholars?
Anthony: Well, Plato, that's a little far-fetched and off topic of class structure.
Plato: Oh I know, but as mentioned to Glaucon, “we weren't trying to discover these things in order to prove that it's possible for them to come into being” (Plato, 242). Although this may be utopian, I still believe that we should strive towards something like that. For, in essence, that is the best the human race can hope for. To aggressively work towards perfection in a fashion that acknowledges that we can never be totally perfect.
Karl Marx: You mean to tell me you just asked a bunch of questions proposing an ideal setting
Plato: Why, yes! “Do you think that someone is a worse painter if, having painted a model of what the finest and most beautiful human being would be like and having rendered every detail of his picture adequately, he could not prove that such a man could come into being? (Plato, 242) It's significant to paint a perfect picture or model of a body or, in this case, society! It gives us a frame of reference to work from.
Anthony: We're only dealing with possible ideas, Plato.
Karl Marx: As once famously written above me, “ Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it” (Paolucci, 40). You are merely throwing out impossible concepts that are unattainable in this world. We cannot envision the Utopian society you seek to create or refer from, we must be practical.
Plato: Odd, I studied your works before I came here. I don't recall that.
Karl Marx: It's written above my grave in Highgate Cemetery in London, you dolt!
Anthony: Hey! All right. Why don't we move on? You'll both see that you have a lot more in common than you think you do.
Plato: All right, fine. I was thinking about a communal ...
John Locke: Oh no you don't! How can you?!
Adam Smith: What will the people work for?! What will light a fire under them? I thought you believed in an aristocracy anyway.
Plato: No, wrong again. While aristo is Greek for "the best", I believe in an aristocracy of wealth as in wealth of “knowledge”. Just as I illustrated in “The Allegory of the Cave”, we must be dragged into the light and see the highest good. These people cannot be virtuous citizens anyhow, because virtue is only for philosophers and can only be studied. Furthermore, let's truly discuss the subject of class since you've circumvented around the subjected.
Anthony: That’s fine. I propose an Adam Smith model with a limited government. In terms of the poor, I believe if we concentrate on equal educational opportunities for everyone, we all can share a respectable standard of living.
Karl Marx & Plato: WHAT!
Plato: Obviously, you've never read my Republic! Don't you understand that the poor will become frustrated and rebel?
Karl Marx: Precisely my point! The poor will rebel and over take the government.
Anthony: Ok look, the tax bracket should be increased for the rich and with the extra money we could help increase the standard of living for the poor and build up the education system.
Yes, we needed to tax the rich by a few percentage points just so we could fund new educational techniques. I took heed of what Plato and Marx objected to, since they were trying to look out for the interest of the poor, something that's far too often overlooked. We decided to increase the taxes for the rich, but only after we'd try to illustrate why their money was so essential to the community. The following a piece of what we discussed pertaining to this issue.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Yes sir, that's true. Some of these poor families become slaves to their wallets, working in menial and sometimes dangerous jobs just to see their childrens' stomachs full of food and happiness. Their opportunities and financial situations become dismal as they frantically search for an alternative to save them along with their families from the malice of poverty.
Anthony: All right, so perhaps more taxing for the rich? We need to balance the class structure of this and the main component is taxes.
John Locke: What! How do you compensate those who have worked for their labour very hard? Or do we merely tie their wages on a string and make them run for it like a rabbit or some beast!
Anthony: Hmm. We need to open their minds ... we need to show them that their taxes are working for them! People hate paying taxes, and they mumble and grumbled about them. We need to spend the tax dollars more efficiently so the voters see a reciprocal benefit to taxes. Wait a minute, just as in Athens; EVERYONE was kept abreast of the government. We need to tell people what their taxes are doing!
Adam Smith: That's a fine idea, keep going!
Anthony: Perhaps we can show tax dollars fixing buildings and improving the schools visually. Take them on tours to see the new upgrades in place and any ideas for the community. Show them how much we need their support in the community so that it becomes an investment for them. We can illustrate that it's an investment for their family and neighbors, that we should all be concerned about the welfare of it. If we can depict the community as essential to the happiness and prosperity of its citizens, the rich can possibly be persuaded to agree to pay a little more. We should give out flyers to what is being spent on what, and require people to vote at least three times a year on town issues or else they don't get their tax refund. I don't believe this is asking for much, and, one of Aristotle's themes is out of aggressive laws come good habits. If we can get people to practice good voting habits, it'll become second nature to them. When people are heavily involved in something, they'll show pride in it and want to nurture it; like a parent acts to a child.
Aristotle: I can't imagine how your society functions with nearly fifty-percent voting in national elections! As I say in Politics, " ... a human being is by nature a political animal” (302). Man naturally needs to be political, and with the merging of these two towns, that ideal can become practiced again. If you can motivate these people to take pride in their town since their tax dollars are creating a richer society, then they will be more apt to vote and want to help make decisions.
As a result, we decided to increase the tax bracket for the rich by only several percentage points. Since voting has become lax, so has the desire to better the community. Carrying out a law that asks people to vote in local politics helps to strengthen the community, as well as people getting to know their own neighbors. However, class is a complex situation, and there are many smaller issues such as property or family structure that go along with it.
Anthony: Well, since we're on the subject of class, we should also speak a little about property since it is relevant to this discussion concerning class.
John Locke: In regard to property, I say in my Second Treatise of Government,
He who gathered as much of the wild fruit, killed, caught, or tamed, as many of the beasts, as he could; he that so imployed his pains about any of the spontaneous products of nature, as any way to alter them from the state which nature put them in, by placing any of his labour on them, did thereby acquire a propriety in them. (Locke, 24)
Karl Marx: I too read your Second Treatise of Government, and believe that it continues
...but if they perished, in his possession, without their due use; if the fruits rotted, or the venison putrefied, before he could spend it, he offended against the common law of nature, and was liable to be punished; he invaded his neighbour's share, for he had no right, farther than his use called for any of them, and they might serve to afford him conveniences of life
Now, I know all of "you are horrified at my intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths" ( Marx,171). I'm only concerned with altering the property of the higher classes. I am fighting for the common man who breaks his back but doesn't receive what he deserves. He should be taken care of since he is human and is entitled to care. However, I clarify prior to this statement still in my Communist Manifesto,
The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of the bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products, that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few. (Marx,170)
As a communist, while I don't promote the idea of private property, I do believe it is needed in limited amounts. However, the exploitation of property by the bourgeoisie compromises the lower classes' state of living.
John Locke: Yes, but bear in mind even with money, a man will not buy up more than he can afford. I clarify if you read on further, "For I ask, what would a man value ten thousand, or an hundred thousand acres of excellent land, ready cultivated, and well stocked too with cattle, in the middle of the inland parts of America, where he had no hopes of commerce with other parts of the world, to draw money to him by the sale of the product?" (Locke,29). A man will obviously be limited in how much wealth he can possibly accumulate for he is constrained by his humanity, which has its limits.
Anthony: Alright, so we need to protect property rights. Locke, I believe you should research some of the incomes accrued annually by some people alone. In this time period, some people are making more than some small countries produce. Anyhow, I don't want to go off on a tangent. We still need a way to create unity and share certain things in our community. The poor need to feel like they own something important, even if it's shared by all.
At this point, we really weren't making much progress. Yes, property rights would be protected, but we couldn't just steal private property from the rich. I began believing that perhaps this was a hopeless cause, unless we could figure out an agreeable way to spread property among everyone.
A woman slinks into the room and attempts to silently close the door. She is adorned in ethnic silks and is carrying several binders of documents. Plato jumps at the sight of her and all eyes are on this woman.
Vandana Shiva: (apologetically) Is this the discussion of Pleasantville and Williamsburg? I apologize for being late, I was with the National Alliance for Women's Food Rights protesting a ban on local processing and sales of open oil in India. What are we discussing?
Anthony: Thanks for coming, Vandana! Actually, we're discussing property rights and how to ensure both public and private rights without diminishing our new community.
Vandana Shiva: Well, I can tell you that corporations are stealing and manipulating our foods all the time. This, in regards to property as even Coca-Cola wants to take over the Ganges River. We must be careful not to let anyone have a global take-over in this new community as well. Everything is entitled to happiness, as I say in my Stolen Harvest, quoting the Dalai Lama, “ All sentiment beings , including the small insects, cherish themselves. All have the right to overcome suffering and achieve happiness. I therefore pray that we show love and compassion to all” (Shiva,57). We should appreciate the nature around us, for we share everything with it. As it shares with us, so should we with each other. We depend on each other for survival, happiness to an extent, food and nearly every aspect of life. We devise our living through an unspoken compromise. This is much like a farm, where people grow their own food but are cooperative.
Anthony: Wait! What if we had a community garden? If people from all backgrounds help, it can help break up the class structure in our community. You're no different when you're shoveling and digging. People will be toiling together, side by side, and it could spark interaction among classes. Besides the invested tax dollars, people can start taking pride in their community because of the actual labor they put into it. Moreover, this can reinforce the concept of being globally aware of the environment and taking measures to create a sound environment within the confines of our society.
Vandana Shiva: I believe we're getting somewhere. A community garden could protect against corporate takeover and force the citizens to work together to survive. It seems to me that through industrialization we've become strangers to our neighbors, simply going to markets and stores to quickly get what we need and not realize the needs of others. Our lives could be richer if we knew the people in the store, and how much they appreciated our help to them. We rely on each other for survival, and we are all part of nature. We should never forget that we are still part of nature and should take care of it. Now, weren't we also supposed to talk about gender roles?
A community garden, I thought this can be very monumental to our community! Up till now, there hand't been something that could be both fun and beneficial to the community on such a large scale. Private property rights would still be honored, but this community garden will sharpen the awareness of our community of who lives here, encourage all of us to spend more tax dollars to improve our community and could lead to greater voter turnout or some other spillover benefits. When a community can share something, it helps everyone come together to enjoy one common thing and promotes an open and accepting environment. It also can focus our attention on the environment and take precautions to ensure its vitality for future generations.
Anthony: Vanda, since you came late and haven't had time to discuss, why don't you lead this topic.
Vandana Shiva: Thank you. Well, as I mentioned earlier, farming is an essential from where I come from. Yet, as mentioned in Stolen Harvest “ For the vast majority of the world's people - 70 percent - earn their livelihoods by producing food. The majority of these farmers are women” (Shiva,7). These corporations are oppressing not only farmers but mostly women! Women are just as capable of doing anything men can, and they offer a different perspective on an array of subjects. Society blossoms when women are used to their full utility, and this society that we are trying to lay a foundation for should acknowledge the potential of women.
Anthony: Well, this garden I suggested can also help in this. I believe having man and woman working side-by-side at the same job, not worrying about payments, our traits can be seen side-by-side. Women are natural nurturers, so it's most likely that they will be more dedicated to this garden. If men can see this, equal wages could be right around the corner.
Karl Marx: The woman has become the slave to the master. Of course, the master can't take care of himself since the slave has been taking care of the master. This society should espouse the belief of equality between the sexes, for females are valuable in society and in the workplace.
Aristotle: Absolutely not. The woman should be obedient to the man, for as I clearly mandate in the Politics, “ We must take what the poet says about a woman as our guide in every case: “To a woman silence is a crowning glory... it is evident, then, that all those mentioned have virtue of character, and that temperance, courage, and justice of a man are not the same as those of a woman” (Aristotle, 311). Obviously, men are different from women and should be treated as such. Women are built differently and have different qualities that must be used. Doing the same things men do should be eschewed for fear of not fulfilling what they were created to do. Why, look at what I write about with Sparta,
“In the days of Sparta's hegemony, many things were managed by women. And yet what difference is there between women rulers and rulers ruled by women? The result is the same. Audacity is not useful in everyday matters, but only, if at all, in war.”( Aristotle,317)
Basically, women were there for the soldiers to maintain families and kept Sparta running in times of war. They should be domesticated and...
Plato: Whoa! Hold on there. I agree with Marx, for I ask in the Republic, “isn't one woman philosophical or a lover of wisdom, while another hates wisdom? And isn't one spirited and another spiritless?” (232). Women are just as objective as men when it comes to certain principles. I also state that
There is no way of life concerned with the management of the city that belongs to a woman because she's a woman or to a man because he's a man, but the various natures are distributed in the same way in both creatures. Women share by nature in every way of life just as men do, but in all of them women are weaker than men. (Plato, 232)
In this, there's nothing that a man can do that a woman can't do. Indeed, physically there is a difference between man and woman but that is all. Women have intelligence, passions and insights to all kinds of societal questions. How can we just heed from the perspective of men? We cannot equate being physically weaker to being less mentally competent than man.
Karl Marx: Yes! I believe you also state that,
Then the guardian women must strip for physical training, since they'll wear virtue or excellence instead of clothes ... must share in war and other guardians duties in the city .... lighter parts must be assigned to them because of the weakness of their sex. (Plato,233)
Women in society should be given as much responsibility as men with attention paid to the physical difference between man and woman. On the battlefield, women should be regarded as just as venerable as the men. Why shouldn't women be allowed to be patriotic to their country and fight for what they believe in? You mean to tell me because they are physically created differently that it's a curse? I guess we have a lot in common after all, Plato.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: If I may speak, the love between a man and a woman should be mutual. Though I'm not talking about the workplace, this verse from the Bible does apply to it inadvertently,
Likewise, you wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives' conduct when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior.
Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes,
Likewise, you husbands should live with your wives in understanding, showing honor to the weaker female sex, since we are joint heirs of the gift of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:1-4, 7)
While the Bible may say that women should listen to their men, it does reminds the men that they are equal to women in being alive. I personally believe that since all races should behave amicably towards each other, the sexes should be treated equal. A family cannot stand without a mother and a father, and our society needs a mother and a father. It needs the nourishment of a mother and the strength of a father to protect its young; its citizens.
Aristotle: While I'm not in favor of gender equality, I can see a similarity between this issue and my writings. As written in my Politics, "Just as a doctor should be inspected by doctors, so others should also be inspected of their peers. But the "doctor” applies to the ordinary practitioner of the craft, to a master craftsman, and thirdly, to someone with a general education in the craft" (Aristotle, 328). Certainly, we must inspect the workplace and have a checks and balances system. Have lawyers check lawyers, and perhaps this can help you on your decision of gender issues.
Anthony: So we can all agree that indeed women and men are alike and should be treated as such. We should keep in mind that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1974 that traditional methods do not absolve a company from equally treating employees. Therefore, there is no excuse that a woman is paid lower because that is the "going market rate." If there was evidence of a difference in wage "simply because men would not work at the low rates paid women" it won't be condemned (Infoplease). Perhaps we can have a committee of perhaps five men and five women in town who preside over who gets a bonus or a higher wage. The employee can be evaluated between both sexes needing an eight for permission for the business to give a bonus or raise. This way, even if all the men voted yes for a particular candidate, or visa-versa, three votes would still need to come from the other sex.
And now, ten years later, this community is thriving better than it ever had as two separate towns. We named the town “Aristown”, to bear in mind that this is the best community since we work towards that goal and it helps sustain our moral. Racism, though not totally, has been noticeably reduced and there is equal opportunity for everyone. Children are educated equally and efficiently, and there is plenty of time for play. As far as busing was concerned, we decided to move the two high schools on or around the boarders of Pleasantville and Williamsburg, that way at the very least the bus rides are equal for everyone. We've had an increase in minorities going on to colleges such as Boston College and Yale. Since these colleges are expensive, the community gets together and tries to provide scholarships to some of these schools, although we're working on creating our own college here. The class structure has been broken down somewhat as well since there is still private property. However, we now have three community gardens, and we've created other spin-offs such as community bbqs, community tutoring sessions, along with parades. People have truly begun embracing one another as human beings rather than “white” or “black” or any other color. Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement. My only hope is that the progress we've made won't be deterred by pressure from outsiders or crumble within because of hidden agendas. I have faith in our society.
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