Sun Feb 9, 2014, 05:41 PM
Purveyor (29,432 posts)
A Renewed Discourse on Inequality [View all]
Corporate personhood and the civil and criminal protections it affords, accompanied by the ability to craft legislation and pour unlimited funds into the political process, exacerbate inequality and destroy principles.
Sunday, 09 February 2014 00:00
Suddenly, it is in vogue to discuss economic inequality. The idea of inequality and how it is interpreted today is relatively new in human history and has its roots in the Enlightenment period. By the same token, the discourse surrounding it is old enough to have evolved greatly since this period to the form it enters in the public consciousness via the mainstream broadcast media today. As usual, now that the quicksand is up to our chins, we have decided it's time to start looking for help.
In many ways, having a rational conversation about economic inequality is like trying to have a rational discussion about climate change. Both have reached a consensus within their respective scientific communities that these issues are influenced by human behavior. Problematically, both are also highly charged and emotional matters being debated in high definition by a shallow pool of uniformed talent that panders to the lowest common intellectual denominator among us.
Many of the themes examined by Enlightenment philosophers, scientists and scholars remain highly relevant and are worth revisiting. These figures attempted to define the role of man in civil society, which was revolutionary thinking as Western civilization emerged from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. From the mid-17th to the mid-19th centuries, philosophers such as Descartes, Locke and Rousseau, scientists from Newton to Darwin and writers such as Dostoevsky, Dickens and Melville created enduring masterpieces that challenge our concepts of liberty, democracy and the rights of man to this day.
Vive La Corporation!
Understanding the foundations of economic inequality is instructive when examining it through a modern lens. However, there is a disruptive shift that has occurred that cannot be overlooked. The idea that corporations enjoy the very liberties we associate with humans is a dangerous departure from the theories suggested by the intellectual luminaries highlighted above.
Inequality is multifaceted and takes on several meanings depending upon the context in which it is raised. Inequalities associated to gender and race, for example, are significant issues that move the discussion in meaningful directions but often raise the emotional temperature. As economic inequality serves as both the underlying cause and product of these factors, it therefore provides a more complete template for analysis. Without the polemic that surrounded the nature of liberty and the human person's place in society, we would have little concept of equality and therefore no ability to debate tributaries such as sexual orientation, gender and race.
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