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Oscar Wilde On Charity

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    Sooner28posted 3 years ago

    Many people live in an information bubble; when encountering political opinions, they consistently listen and read the same, mainstream points of view.  This does nothing to expand perspective or enhance critical thinking.

    That's why, when I read something insightful and incisive, I am going to share with all of the hub pages community to see.  I appreciate those of you, right or left, who do this also.  Expanding perspectives is always preferred to diminishing them.

    "Charity they feel to be a ridiculously inadequate mode of partial restitution, or a sentimental dole, usually accompanied by some impertinent attempt on the part of the sentimentalist to tyrannise over their private lives. Why should they be grateful for the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table? They should be seated at the board, and are beginning to know it. As for being discontented, a man who would not be discontented with such surroundings and such a low mode of life would be a perfect brute. Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion. Sometimes the poor are praised for being thrifty. But to recommend thrift to the poor is both grotesque and insulting. It is like advising a man who is starving to eat less. For a town or country labourer to practise thrift would be absolutely immoral. Man should not be ready to show that he can live like a badly-fed animal. He should decline to live like that, and should either steal or go on the rates, which is considered by many to be a form of stealing. As for begging, it is safer to beg than to take, but it is finer to take than to beg. No: a poor man who is ungrateful, unthrifty, discontented, and rebellious, is probably a real personality, and has much in him. He is at any rate a healthy protest. As for the virtuous poor, one can pity them, of course, but one cannot possibly admire them. They have made private terms with the enemy, and sold their birthright for very bad pottage. They must also be extraordinarily stupid. I can quite understand a man accepting laws that protect private property, and admit of its accumulation, as long as he himself is able under those conditions to realise some form of beautiful and intellectual life. But it is almost incredible to me how a man whose life is marred and made hideous by such laws can possibly acquiesce in their continuance."  -Oscar Wilde

    Concise and insightful!  The beauty of this quote is not only its advocacy of intellectual courage in the face of unpopularity, but also its exposure of the subservient relationship between capitalist and worker.

    1. wilderness profile image94
      wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Sounds to me like good old Oscar has a hatred of anyone that manages to do well for themselves.  Not unusual; envy often breeds hatred.

      It also sounds very much like he feels that it's OK to steal (better than begging) as long as the person being stolen from has more than the thief.  A viewpoint very far removed from my own - I doubt I would enjoy sitting at the same table with him.

      1. innersmiff profile image87
        innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        "...as long as the person being stolen from has more than the thief."

        Which is a completely arbitrary distinction anyway. Having more than someone else does not indicate anything other than wealth. What matters is the manner in which they acquired that wealth, and whether it was just, i.e. did it violate anybody's rights? Wilde was absurd to suggest that receiving charity was somehow more shameful than stealing.

        1. Kathryn L Hill profile image85
          Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          My interpretation and response to this excerpt is that Wilde was responding to the consciousness of some of the people during those times. The situation which Oscar wild was addressing applied to a particular type of person in a particular era. Why should the poor hold themselves down? is the real question. Perhaps one must fight against one's own *poverty consciousness!* It is indeed a mindset. Class distinction is often self imposed.
               In America we are given the chance to NOT HAVE THIS class distinction/ orientation. Yet so many here have *recently * started PINPOINTING a reality which never has, does not have to, and shouldn't exist!
                India's caste system has been detrimental for the people of India. It is a Very unjust system of illusionary belief. They are still having to fight against its influence to this day.
          Yet there are those, (here in modern times in America!) who keep reiterating  a reality...(unreality) of Poor vs. Rich.
          We are all one class: Wonderful and loved by our creator who created us with his own design through evolution and directed it through the course of history.  (Sorry, if the thought of evolution disturbs anyone or if the idea of God disturbs any one.)

               Every person has his own strengths which are developed individually through the cultivation of motivations and interests. All we have to do is tune into them, and help each other (especially children...preferably mothers or fathers,) tune into them. Then, we can use those talents which we have developed (through our own wills/desires/passions in life) to assist others...
                             * in any way we see fit and in any way we choose *
                                               whether it be great or small.

        2. wilderness profile image94
          wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Just so.  I don't like thieves, having fought them off for much of my life, I don't care to associate with thieves, and when someone counsels that stealing from others is better than asking for help it turns my stomach.

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          Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

          That's the key.  The acquisition for me was not just.  If you could show it was, you would immediately win the argument.

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    Sooner28posted 3 years ago

    Considering how much is being stolen for the actual worker by the capitalist, is it really theft to take back what is actually yours?  Just a thought.

    However, I believe in peace, and I don't think "stealing" -another concept presupposing much of capitalist ideology- is the way to solve any problems.  A fundamental attitude change and restructuring of society are a better alternative.

    1. innersmiff profile image87
      innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      If you believe in the concept of self-ownership, you have to believe in property rights, as property is the direct result of the individual. Workers forgo what they physically produce in exchange for monetary payment. The worker cannot claim a product if they have already signed it off in their contract. Any system that interferes with this cooperation would be inherently violent - organised theft. However, if people up and decided to have a voluntary socialistic society, I wouldn't have a problem with that.

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        Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

        I agree that people should have more fluidity moving across borders.  I've become much more skeptical of state power lately, but I've not given up my socialist leanings.  So, just to be clear, I am not advocating state socialism or capitalism, where the government is the only employer and the planner and organizer of society.

        If property were limited to what an individual could directly do on their own, very few people would have massive amounts of property, and those who did probably could be said to have rightfully earned it.  If a person mines raw materials on their own, builds the machine that mines on their own, designs the machines on their own, and erects a building to house their business, I think it would be closer to theft to take it away.