Tag Archives: Working class

It’ s not me. It’s the monster

Globalization and neoliberalism. They’ve become the explanations du jour for the decimation of industries and the devastation of lives, for falling wages and slashed public spending. And there is, of course, truth to the claim. But capitalism was chewing up and spitting out its victims long before the market was globalised or liberalism became neo’d.

One of the great novels of the Great Depression, of the wretchedness of poverty in 1930s America, was written half a century before those words were invented. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.  It tells the story of one family, the Joads, tenant farmers from Oklahoma, who are forced off their land by the banks, pushed into migrating to the promised land of California, and the even greater wretchedness they find in their Utopia. It is a story of the pitilessness of capitalism, the dignity of work, the horrors of migration, the disintegration of a family. It is in turns angry and tender, polemical and poetic, allegorical and melodramatic. Steinbeck does not ignore the history of the land and how it was acquired (‘Grampa took up the land, and he had to kill the Indians and drive them away’), but he unquestioningly stands with the farmers in their bewilderments and in their battles. There are times, especially in the second half of the book, where the anger seems to overwhelm the writing. But, given the subject, and given what Steinbeck set out to do – to ‘rip a reader’s nerves to rags ‘, as he himself put it – that is, perhaps, both inevitable and necessary.

– Kenan Malik

This is an extract from Chapter 5, that tells of how those responsible for evicting the farmers justified their actions. ‘We have to do it. We don’t like to do it. But the monster’s sick. Something’s happened to the monster’. A passage and a book that feels as meaningful and vital today as it did when first published almost a century ago.


From The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck,
Chapter 5

John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath

The owners of the land came onto the land, or more often a spokesman for the owners came. They came in closed cars, and they felt the dry earth with their fingers, and sometimes they drove big earth augers into the ground for soil tests. The tenants, from their sun-beaten dooryards, watched uneasily when the closed cars drove along the fields. And at last the owner men drove into the dooryards and sat in their cars to talk out of the windows. The tenant men stood beside the cars for a while, and then squatted on their hams and found sticks with which to mark the dust.

In the open doors the women stood looking out, and behind them the children – corn-headed children, with wide eyes, one bare foot on top of the other bare foot, and the toes working. The women and the children watched their men talking to the owner men. They were silent.

Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshiped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank – or the Company – needs – wants – insists – must have – as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. The owner men sat in the cars and explained. You know the land is poor. You’ve scrabbled at it long enough, God knows.

The squatting tenant men nodded and wondered and drew figures in the dust, and yes, they knew, God knows. If the dust only wouldn’t fly. If the top would only stay on the soil, it might not be so bad.

The owner men went on leading to their point: You know the land’s getting poorer. You know what cotton does to the land; robs it, sucks all the blood out of it.

The squatters nodded – they knew, God knew. If they could only rotate the crops they might pump blood back into the land.

Well, it’s too late. And the owner men explained the workings and the thinkings of the monster that was stronger than they were. A man can hold land if he can just eat and pay taxes; he can do that.

Yes, he can do that until his crops fail one day and he has to borrow money from the bank.

But – you see, a bank or a company can’t do that, because those creatures don’t breathe air, don’t eat side-meat. They breathe profits; they eat the interest on money. If they don’t get it, they die the way you die without air, without side-meat. It is a sad thing, but it is so. It is just so.

Alexandre Hogue The Crucified Land

The squatting men raised their eyes to understand. Can’t we just hang on? Maybe the next year will be a good year. God knows how much cotton next year. And with all the wars – God knows what price cotton will bring. Don’t they make explosives out of cotton? And uniforms? Get enough wars and cotton’ll hit the ceiling. Next year, maybe. They looked up questioningly.

We can’t depend on it. The bank – the monster has to have profits all the time. It can’t wait. It’ll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can’t stay one size.

Soft fingers began to tap the sill of the car window, and hard fingers tightened on the restless drawing sticks. In the doorways of the sun-beaten tenant houses, women sighed and then shifted feet so that the one that had been down was now on top, and the toes working. Dogs came sniffing near the owner cars and wetted on all four tires one after another. And chickens lay in the sunny dust and fluffed their feathers to get the cleansing dust down to the skin. In the little sties the pigs grunted inquiringly over the muddy remnants of the slops.

The squatting men looked down again. What do you want us to do? We can’t take less share of the crop – we’re half starved now. The kids are hungry all the time. We got no clothes, torn an’ ragged. If all the neighbors weren’t the same, we’d be ashamed to go to meeting.

And at last the owner men came to the point. The tenant system won’t work any more. One man on a tractor can take the place of twelve or fourteen families. Pay him a wage and take all the crop. We have to do it. We don’t like to do it. But the monster’s sick. Something’s happened to the monster.

But you’ll kill the land with cotton.

We know. We’ve got to take cotton quick before the land dies. Then we’ll sell the land. Lots of families in the East would like to own a piece of land.

The tenant men looked up alarmed. But what’ll happen to us? How’ll we eat?

You’ll have to get off the land. The plows’ll go through the dooryard.

Clyfford Styll Gleaners

And now the squatting men stood up angrily. Grampa took up the land, and he had to kill the Indians and drive them away. And Pa was born here, and he killed weeds and snakes. Then a bad year came and he had to borrow a little money. An’ we was born here. There in the door – our children born here. And Pa had to borrow money. The bank owned the land then, but we stayed and we got a little bit of what we raised.

We know that – all that. It’s not us, it’s the bank. A bank isn’t like a man. Or an owner with fifty thousand acres, he isn’t like a man either. That’s the monster.

Sure, cried the tenant men, but it’s our land. We measured it and broke it up. We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it’s no good, it’s still ours. That’s what makes it ours – being born on it, working it, dying on it. That makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it.

We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man.

Yes, but the bank is only made of men.

No, you’re wrong there – quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.

The tenants cried, Grampa killed Indians, Pa killed snakes for the land. Maybe we can kill banks – they’re worse than Indians and snakes. Maybe we got to fight to keep our land, like Pa and Grampa did.

And now the owner men grew angry. You’ll have to go.

But it’s ours, the tenant men cried. We –

No. The bank, the monster owns it. You’ll have to go.

We’ll get our guns, like Grampa when the Indians came. What then?

Well – first the sheriff, and then the troops. You’ll be stealing if you try to stay, you’ll be murderers if you kill to stay. The monster isn’t men, but it can make men do what it wants.

But if we go, where’ll we go? How’ll we go? We got no money.

We’re sorry, said the owner men. The bank, the fifty-thousand-acre owner can’t be responsible. You’re on land that isn’t yours. Once over the line maybe you can pick cotton in the fall. Maybe you can go on relief. Why don’t you go on west to California? There’s work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there’s always some kind of crop to work in. Why don’t you go there? And the owner men started their cars and rolled away.

James Edward Allen Praying for Rain

The tenant men squatted down on their hams again to mark the dust with a stick, to figure, to wonder. Their sunburned faces were dark, and their sun-whipped eyes were light. The women moved cautiously out of the doorways toward their men, and the children crept behind the women, cautiously, ready to run. The bigger boys squatted beside their fathers, because that made them men. After a time the women asked, What did he want?

And the men looked up for a second, and the smolder of pain was in their eyes. We got to get off. A tractor and a superintendent. Like factories.

Where’ll we go? the women asked.

We don’t know. We don’t know.

And the women went quickly, quietly back into the houses and herded the children ahead of them. They knew that a man so hurt and so perplexed may turn in anger, even on people he loves. They left the men alone to figure and to wonder in the dust.

After a time perhaps the tenant man looked about – at the pump put in ten years ago, with a goose-neck handle and iron flowers on the spout, at the chopping block where a thousand chickens had been killed, at the hand plow lying in the shed, and the patent crib hanging in the rafters over it.

The children crowded about the women in the houses. What we going to do, Ma? Where we going to go?

The women said, We don’t know, yet. Go out and play. But don’t go near your father. He might whale you if you go near him. And the women went on with the work, but all the time they watched the men squatting in the dust – perplexed and figuring.

Georgia O'Keeffe Bones and Red Hills

The tractors came over the roads and into the fields, great crawlers moving like insects, having the incredible strength of insects. They crawled over the ground, laying the track and rolling on it and picking it up. Diesel tractors, puttering while they stood idle; they thundered when they moved, and then settled down to a droning roar.

Snubnosed monsters, raising the dust and sticking their snouts into it, straight down the country, across the country, through fences, through dooryards, in and out of gullies in straight lines. They did not run on the ground, but on their own roadbeds. They ignored hills and gulches, water courses, fences, houses.

The man sitting in the iron seat did not look like a man; gloved, goggled, rubber dust mask over nose and mouth, he was a part of the monster, a robot in the seat. The thunder of the cylinders sounded through the country, became one with the air and the earth, so that earth and air muttered in sympathetic vibration. The driver could not control it – straight across country it went, cutting through a dozen farms and straight back. A twitch at the controls could swerve the cat’, but the driver’s hands could not twitch because the monster that built the tractors, the monster that sent the tractor out, had somehow got into the driver’s hands, into his brain and muscle, had goggled him and muzzled him – goggled his mind, muzzled his speech, goggled his perception, muzzled his protest. He could not see the land as it was, he could not smell the land as it smelled; his feet did not stamp the clods or feel the warmth and power of the earth. He sat in an iron seat and stepped on iron pedals. He could not cheer or beat or curse or encourage the extension of his power, and because of this he could not cheer or whip or curse or encourage himself. He did not know or own or trust or beseech the land. If a seed dropped did not germinate, it was nothing. If the young thrusting plant withered in drought or drowned in a flood of rain, it was no more to the driver than to the tractor.

He loved the land no more than the bank loved the land. He could admire the tractor – its machined surfaces, its surge of power, the roar of its detonating cylinders; but it was not his tractor. Behind the tractor rolled the shining disks, cutting the earth with blades – not plowing but surgery, pushing the cut earth to the right where the second row of disks cut it and pushed it to the left; slicing blades shining, polished by the cut earth. And pulled behind the disks, the harrows combing with iron teeth so that the little clods broke up and the earth lay smooth. Behind the harrows, the long seeders – twelve curved iron penes erected in the foundry, orgasms set by gears, raping methodically, raping without passion. The driver sat in his iron seat and he was proud of the straight lines he did not will, proud of the tractor he did not own or love, proud of the power he could not control. And when that crop grew, and was harvested, no man had crumbled a hot clod in his fingers and let the earth sift past his fingertips. No man had touched the seed, or lusted for the growth. Men ate what they had not raised, had no connection with the bread. The land bore under iron, and under iron gradually died; for it was not loved or hated, it had no prayers or curses.

At noon the tractor driver stopped sometimes near a tenant house and opened his lunch: sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper, white bread, pickle, cheese, Spam, a piece of pie branded like an engine part. He ate without relish. And tenants not yet moved away came out to see him, looked curiously while the goggles were taken off, and the rubber dust mask, leaving white circles around the eyes and a large white circle around nose and mouth. The exhaust of the tractor puttered on, for fuel is so cheap it is more efficient to leave the engine running than to heat the Diesel nose for a new start. Curious children crowded close, ragged children who ate their fried dough as they watched. They watched hungrily the unwrapping of the sandwiches, and their hunger- sharpened noses smelled the pickle, cheese, and Spam. They didn’t speak to the driver. They watched his hand as it carried food to his mouth. They did not watch him chewing; their eyes followed the hand that held the sandwich. After a while the tenant who could not leave the place came out and squatted in the shade beside the tractor.

Mervin Jules Dispossessed

‘Why, you’re Joe Davis’s boy!’

‘Sure’, the driver said.

‘Well, what you doing this kind of work for – against your own people?’

‘Three dollars a day. I got damn sick of creeping for my dinner – and not getting it. I got a wife and kids. We got to eat. Three dollars a day, and it comes every day.’

‘That’s right,’ the tenant said. ‘But for your three dollars a day fifteen or twenty families can’t eat at all. Nearly a hundred people have to go out and wander on the roads for your three dollars a day. Is that right?’

And the driver said, ‘Can’t think of that. Got to think of my own kids. Three dollars a day, and it comes every day. Times are changing, mister, don’t you know? Can’t make a living on the land unless you’ve got two, five, ten thousand acres and a tractor. Crop land isn’t for little guys like us any more. You don’t kick up a howl because you can’t make Fords, or because you’re not the telephone company. Well, crops are like that now. Nothing to do about it. You try to get three dollars a day someplace. That’s the only way.’

The tenant pondered. ‘Funny thing how it is. If a man owns a little property, that property is him, it’s part of him, and it’s like him. If he owns property only so he can walk on it and handle it and be sad when it isn’t doing well, and feel fine when the rain falls on it, that property is him, and some way he’s bigger because he owns it. Even if he isn’t successful he’s big with his property. That is so.’

And the tenant pondered more. ‘But let a man get property he doesn’t see, or can’t take time to get his fingers in, or can’t be there to walk on it – why, then the property is the man. He can’t do what he wants, he can’t think what he wants. The property is the man, stronger than he is. And he is small, not big. Only his possessions are big—and he’s the servant of his property. That is so, too.’

The driver munched the branded pie and threw the crust away. ‘Times are changed, don’t you know? Thinking about stuff like that don’t feed the kids. Get your three dollars a day, feed your kids. You got no call to worry about anybody’s kids but your own. You get a reputation for talking like that, and you’ll never get three dollars a day. Big shots won’t give you three dollars a day if you worry about anything but your three dollars a day.’

‘Nearly a hundred people on the road for your three dollars. Where will we go?’

‘And that reminds me’, the driver said, ‘you better get out soon. I’m going through the dooryard after dinner.’

‘You filled in the well this morning.’

‘I know. Had to keep the line straight. But I’m going through the dooryard after dinner. Got to keep the lines straight. And – well, you know Joe Davis, my old man, so I’ll tell you this. I got orders wherever there’s a family not moved out – if I have an accident – you know, get too close and cave the house in a little – well, I might get a couple of dollars. And my youngest kid never had no shoes yet.’

Clare Leighton Bread Line

‘I built it with my hands. Straightened old nails to put the sheathing on. Rafters are wired to the stringers with baling wire. It’s mine. I built it. You bump it down—I’ll be in the window with a rifle. You even come too close and I’ll pot you like a rabbit.’

‘It’s not me. There’s nothing I can do. I’ll lose my job if I don’t do it. And look – suppose you kill me? They’ll just hang you, but long before you’re hung there’ll be another guy on the tractor, and he’ll bump the house down. You’re not killing the right guy.’

‘That’s so’, the tenant said. ‘Who gave you orders? I’ll go after him. He’s the one to kill.’

‘You’re wrong. He got his orders from the bank. The bank told him, ‘Clear those people out or it’s your job.’

‘Well, there’s a president of the bank. There’s a board of directors. I’ll fill up the magazine of the rifle and go into the bank.’

The driver said, ‘Fellow was telling me the bank gets orders from the East. The orders were, ‘Make the land show profit or we’ll close you up.’‘

‘But where does it stop? Who can we shoot? I don’t aim to starve to death before I kill the man that’s starving me.’

‘I don’t know. Maybe there’s nobody to shoot. Maybe the thing isn’t men at all. Maybe like you said, the property’s doing it. Anyway I told you my orders.’

‘I got to figure’, the tenant said. ‘We all got to figure. There’s some way to stop this. It’s not like lightning or earthquakes. We’ve got a bad thing made by men, and by God that’s something we can change.’ The tenant sat in his doorway, and the driver thundered his engine and started off, tracks falling and curving, harrows combing, and the phalli of the seeder slipping into the ground. Across the dooryard the tractor cut, and the hard, foot-beaten ground was seeded field, and the tractor cut through again; the uncut space was ten feet wide. And back he came. The iron guard bit into the house-corner, crumbled the wall, and wrenched the little house from its foundation so that it fell sideways, crushed like a bug. And the driver was goggled and a rubber mask covered his nose and mouth. The tractor cut a straight line on, and the air and the ground vibrated with its thunder. The tenant man stared after it, his rifle in his hand. His wife was beside him, and the quiet children behind. And all of them stared after the tractor.

The images are all paintings and etchings from, and of, the Great Depression in America. They are from top down, Maynard Dixon, ‘Shapes of Fear’ (1930-32); Alexandre Hogue, ‘The Crucified Land’ (1939); Clyfford Still, ‘Gleaners’ (1936);  James Allen Lane, ‘Prayer for Rain’ (1938); Georgia O’Keefe, ‘Red Hills and Bones’ (1941); Mervin Jules, ‘Dispossessed’ (1938); Clare Leighton, ‘Bread Line’, (1932).

The image of The Grapes of Wrath is of the first edition in 1939.

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Filed under Being and Feeling, Economical affairs, Lifestyle, Quotations or Citations, Re-Blogs and Great Blogs, Social affairs

So-called own sacred values under threat

The last few years we have seen populist politicians becoming more popular and getting a stronger following who wanted to cause a fuss here and there. Often they want to have their people believe their nation was great but got damaged by the many immigrants. They say the immigrant population weakens the country and brings democracy in danger.

On the other side there is also a contemporary myth that European societies used to be homogenous. Europe has always been a blanket of a lot of diversity. Always it has been a mixture of all sorts of people and cultures. Throughout the ages we could find a battlefield in the Low Countries. Lots of pieces of land changed hands many times, once belonging to the Romans, than to the Germans, the Austrians, the French, the Dutch. Even the languages and religion changed more than once.

Threat to the security and stability of the nation

Today we can find lots of people who say the land belongs to them and others bring their Judaeo-Christian values in danger. Though many of those crying about their values, do not have any of such juedo christian values at all. The 2016 Islamist fundamentalist attacks showed clearly how far countries as France wanted to go putting liberty of thought, freedom of expression and clothing at the side. France and Belgium so secularised took measures which went totally against real democratic rules and humanitarian freedom.

Big problem in Europe today is that lots of people do not worship God any more and do not keep to the essential commandments of God and as such do not mind not telling the truth, not loving the other, not taking care of others their goods or of nature, they even enjoy being better than the other wanting to have more than they have. For many, hatred and envy are the order of the day. We notice that hatred under Christians is nothing new any more. In the previously Chrisitan countries, we also come to see more hatred against religions in general, many thinking religion is the cause of all the problems. In West Europe we find many that much-vaunted bastions of multiculturalism have become No God Zones.

The last few years we also could see that several countries did not mind to take up again very discriminatory laws.  We could see that even in the so-called most free country of Europe: France; and also in the so-called most progressive liberal country Denmark where they even went so far to go for Nazi-laws.

Too many people do forget our world evolved to a world where lots of people go from one place to another and influence each other. There are already many influencers on the net who cross many country borders and bring people to change their normal and consumption habits, plus eating and clothing customs.

Best examples which show how it is going wrong at the moment, are the United States of America, Brazil, Hungary and Hong Kong. The States takes the cake by having a president who goes in against everything the founders of that State stood for. That country was built on the aspiring hopes of people who came from all sorts of countries, all sorts of cultures and different religious denominations. The land is created or grown by a mixture of peoples. In the few years the 45th president of the U.S.A. ruled he managed to destroy a lot what was build up in the previous decades and created a lot of division between the inhabitants of those states which should be unified.

Instead of all trying to come to one unified Europe we do find more and more people going against the tendency for unification. Several politicians want to create such hammock in the country people get fed up with politics and start wanting to do their own thing in the way they want to do it.

A few years ago there was the beginning of fear created by Islamist fundamentalists. Now an other fear was added. This time it is not the clash between Islam and the West, but the power of a virus, which destroys our free way of life as well. Religious conflict was the norm in the old so-called homogenous Europe. Often the Roman Catholics were the killers to be afraid of. They had a terror regime that forced everyone to Catholicism. The people having most to fear then were the ones who worshipped the Only One True God and not Christ. Many brethren and sisters in the faith had to hide their faith or even had to hide in less easy to reach regions.

The English philosopher John Locke put it, ‘to a foreign prince’, the Pope, whose values were incompatible with those of liberal democracies, and who posed a threat to the security and stability of the nation.

At one point in European history we have two centuries where Jews were seen even more of a threat to European identity, values and ways of being, so much so that they became victims of the world’s greatest genocide. Today many forget that the treatment of Jews as the ‘Other’ was not confined to Germany. It was a central theme in most European nations, from the Dreyfus affair in France to Britain’s first immigration law, the 1905 Aliens Act, designed principally to stem the flow into the country of European Jews. And up in the North lots of Jews got burned in their homes by Russian attacks against them.

In all cases we see that governments and people want to find a victim, someone or some people to point with the finger, to cast them as the cause of all misery.

In the previous centuries high society also looked downwards to the working class. The working class and the rural poor were seen by many as racial distinct.
The French aristocratic anti-egalitarian diplomat, writer, ethnologist, and social thinker Arthur de Gobineau, in his Essai sur l’inégalité des races humaines, 4 vol. (1853–55; Essay on the Inequality of Human Races), remarked already that

‘Every social order represents a racial variety’.

Joseph-Arthur, comte de Gobineau.

Arthur de Gobineau, French diplomat, writer, ethnologist, and social thinker whose theory of racial determinism had an enormous influence upon the subsequent development of racist theories and practices in western Europe.

In the Essai Gobineau asserted the superiority of the white race over others and labeled the “Aryans”—i.e., the Germanic peoples—as representing the summit of civilization. That idea is not killed yet. Also today in Europe as well as in the United States we do find people who cling to that idea, that the fate of civilizations is determined by racial composition, that white and in particular Aryan societies flourish as long as they remain free of black, brown and yellow strains, and that the more a civilization’s racial character is diluted through miscegenation, the more likely it is to lose its vitality and creativity and sink into corruption and immorality.Donald Trump does find this enough reason to make sure everyone comes to understand that, and that it are the white federal troops which are the ones who can and should have everything in control.

Gobineau insisted that

‘We imagine that we are one nation, but we are two nations on the same land’,

each a distinctive race with

‘perpetually contradictory spirits’.

The Christian socialist Phillipe Buchez, giving a talk to the Medico-Psychological Society of Paris in 1857, wondered how it could happen that

 ‘within a population such as ours, races may form – not merely one but several races – so miserable, inferior and bastardised that they may be classed below the most inferior savage races, for their inferiority is sometimes beyond cure.’

The races that he was talking of were not, of course, from Africa or Asia, but the working class and the rural poor. In this century some reflect similar words now also referring to those who work on the fields (seasonal workers) and those who do the jobs the ‘nationals’ do not want to do.

Gobineau’s writings were quickly praised by white supremacist, pro-slavery Americans like surgeon, anthropologis and slaveowner Josiah C. Nott and the Swiss American propagandist for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, Henry Hotze, who translated his book into English. They omitted around 1,000 pages of the original book, including those parts that negatively described Americans as a racially mixed population.

In the 19th century in many countries, the poor were

‘a race of whom we know nothing, whose lives are of quite different complexion from ours, persons with whom we have no point of contact.’

explained an article on working-class life in East London in The Saturday Review, a well-read liberal magazine of the era.

‘Distinctions and separations, like those of English classes’,

the article concluded,

‘which always endure, which last from the cradle to the grave, which prevent anything like association or companionship… offer a very fair parallel to the separation of the slaves from the whites.’

Just before the pandemic struck our regions there were already enough signs we were evolving back to a segregation position of modern slaves, the working class.

With the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, we will have to be very careful that politicians and CEOs do not take advantage of this situation in order to corner the workers and exploit them even more because of the emerging economic crisis.

In the States, we see already how the president got so many people to believe that we should ignore this virus or Chinese disease and should all go back at work making our economy great again. For him, the economy comes first. Human lives are not so important and when they are black or brown they are even less important. For him as for some in Europe as well there should not be Corona restrictions, because they go against our liberty. All such matters to protect the health of people undermine the economy and therefore (according to them) should be annulled. Inc ase there are people dying from Covid-19 they should be considered as just ‘accidents de parcours’.

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Preceding

Tribes Redux

Trans-ability and Identity and Political correctness

Seeds from the world creating division and separation from God

Denmark votes in favour for a Discriminatory Nazi law

American Christians have to think twice before going to vote

Tolerance Ends When There Is No Tolerance Shown Towards Us

Francis Fukuyama and ‘The End of History?’

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Additional reading

  1. Belgium, Belgicae and the fertile floodland
  2. Disturbing language inbalance
  3. Catholicism, Anabaptism and Crisis of Christianity
  4. Morality, values and Developing right choices
  5. Subcutaneous power for humanity 2 1950-2010 Post war generations
  6. 2014 Religion
  7. Europe and much-vaunted bastions of multiculturalism becoming No God Zones
  8. 2016 in review Politics #1 Year of dissonance
  9. Negative views of immigrants, Muslims and Jews
  10. Migrants to the West #5
  11. Built on or Belonging to Jewish tradition #1 Christian Reform
  12. President Trump shall have to recognise that Immigrant Workers Are Vital to the U.S.A.
  13. Secularism in France becoming dangerous for freedom of religion
  14. Christians, secularism, morals and values
  15. Being Christian in Western Europe at the beginning of the 21st century #2
  16. Need to Embrace People Where They Are
  17. 500 Years of Reformation Divisions Have Lost Much of Their Potency
  18. American Christianity no longer resembles its Founder
  19. What Steve Bannon really wants
  20. Is Europe going to become a dictatorial bastion
  21. Challenges of the Post-Pandemic period

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Francis Fukuyama and ‘The End of History?’

image from BloggingHeads.tv podcast

American political scientist, political economist, and author Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama in 2015

The American writer and political theorist Francis Fukuyama wrote

“Human beings never existed in a pre-­social state. The idea that human beings at one time existed as isolated individuals is not correct.”

In his seminal 1989 essay ‘The End of History?’ he also wrote

‘What we may be witnessing is the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.’

Fukuyama trying to convey silent messages through stories about the evolution of democratic societies he continued

‘With the fall of the Soviet Union the struggle for recognition, the willingness to risk one’s life for a purely abstract goal, the worldwide ideological struggle that called forth daring, courage, imagination, and idealism will be replaced by economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands.’

The End of History and the Last Man.jpg

The End of History and the Last Man is a 1992 book by Francis Fukuyama, expanding on his 1989 essay “The End of History?”, published in the international affairs journal The National Interest.

Fukuyama did not suggest that the end of history meant the end of wars or conflicts, but rather that capitalism and Western-style liberal democracy were the culmination of human political development and would not, and could not, be transcended. He beliefs that the triumph of liberal democracy at the end of the Cold War marked the last ideological stage in the progression of human history. The initial political challenge having to escape beyond tribalism and the “tyranny of cousins”.

For Fukuyama, tribal organisation responds to structural imperatives in social evolution but also blocks the path to further development. The early account of the origins of state-like forms relies heavily on Lawrence Keeley’s military-focused argument in War Before Civilisation (1996) and does not consider the evidence assembled by Keith Otterbein in How War Began (2004): that warfare greatly declined in importance following the hunting to extinction of the larger mammals. Keeley himself grants that early settlement cultures, such as the Natufian,

“furnish no indication of warfare at all”. {Robin BlackburnThe Origins of Political Order: From Pre-Human Times to the French Revolution, By Francis Fukuyama}

We can see that in the West the majority prefers a capitalist system and in several industrialised countries people are a lot afraid of what smells social or communist. Fukuyama thinks that all states are going to adopt a form of capitalist liberal democracy. It was an argument contested from almost the moment he finished writing his essay.
The rise of Islamism, the unleashing of ethnic conflicts, the challenge posed by China – a myriad developments, his critics suggested, questioned the presumption of an end of history.

Donald Trump’s Presidential victory was one of the signs how politicians would easily be able to lure people in false ideas, by their words. The last few years we have seen a seemingly unstoppable rise of populist forces throughout Europe.

Many will probably see how in the quarter of a century since Fukuyama wrote his essay, politics, particularly in the West, has indeed shifted away from ‘ideological struggle’ towards

‘the endless solving of technical problems’.

The broad ideological divides that characterized politics for much of the past two hundred years have been eroded. Politics has become less about competing visions of the kinds of society people want than a debate about how best to manage the existing political system, a question more of technocratic management rather than of social transformation.

What might more come to an end is the believe of people in political systems and in politicians. Lots of people are convinced that politicians are not listening to them and are mostly just working for themselves and trying to get the best paid job.
The majority of politicians have lost connection with the ordinary people who want to feel as if they are justly recognised and that their voice can be heard. The last few years they feel more they are mocked at, nobody taking their voice seriously. Politicians should come to know that this desire to experience both personal and collective recognition is inescapable to the modern human condition.

Liberal democratic states that Fukuyama so vigorously defended in “The End of History” have not responded well to the challenges of pluralism.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, few believed in an alternative to capitalism, not seeing that the Soviet Union was not really the best representative of communism, because it had more dictators than real communist leaders. Communist parties crumbled, while social democratic parties remade themselves, cutting ties to their traditional working class constituencies while reorienting themselves as technocratic parties. Trade unions weakened and social justice campaigns eroded.

It seemed that not only in Europe social movements and political organizations eroded,  and the far-right movements gained space. Local people wanted to become recognised and wanted to look upon social change through the lens of their own cultures, identities, goals and ideals.

Many sections of the working class have found themselves politically voiceless at the very time their lives have become more precarious, as jobs have declined, public services savaged, austerity imposed, and inequality risen. Many also came to see all those immigrants as a danger for their own position, their jobs and income as well as being afraid of loosing their culture.

Having their world coming to an end.

Lots of people in charge of the working of society did not see the discontent many their votes expressed.

Prominent alt-rightists were instrumental in organising the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. Here, rally participants carry Confederate battle flags, Gadsden flags and a Nazi flag.

In Europe and America, people have become disaffected with the old order and felt more attraction for those who promised heaven on earth and for them “a great nation” again. Many of the opposition movements that give voice to that disaffection of the labourers, are shaped not by progressive ideals but by sectarian politics, and rooted in religious or ethnic identity. The Islamist AKP in Turkey or the Hindu nationalist BJP in India are the equivalents of the Front National in France or the alt right, far-right, white supremacist, white nationalist, white separatist, anti-immigration and antisemitic movement in America and Europe.

Those growing right-wing and far- or extreme-right-wing groups should make us aware of the severity of the present political situation. We are witnessing a globally disinformation movement which is creating more hatred and racism as well setting up people against others for wrong reasons.

The current tumult is the result of struggles for recognition that remain unshaped by progressive movements, of ideological struggles in a post-ideological world.

Demand for recognition of one’s identity is a master concept that unifies much of what is going on in world politics today. In his new book: Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment Francis Fukuyama looks at the new layers of meaning of the voters or citizen’s identity.

Fukuyama believes that the focus on self separates people from their communities. The demand for identity cannot be transcended and therefore people must begin to shape identity in a way that supports rather than undermines democracy.
When coming to know the self one can not ignore the connection with religious feelings. One aspect of wisdom is recognizing your need for The One Being outside man.

Christianity succeeds in diminishing family ties when the Church takes a strong stand against practices which enhanced the power of lineages such as cousin marriage, divorce, adoption and marriage to the widows of dead relatives. The looser family pattern favoured by the practices of Latin Christianity have the effect of channelling assets to the Church itself (eg through widows’ bequests). Fukuyama further urges that “contrary to Marx, capitalism was the consequence rather than the cause of a change in social relationships”. Yet he soon acknowledges that

“the most convincing argument for the shift has been given by the social anthropologist Jack Goody“,

an authority whose work could be seen as a distinctive fruit of Cambridge Marxism. {Robin BlackburnThe Origins of Political Order: From Pre-Human Times to the French Revolution, By Francis Fukuyama}

Fukuyama has the idea that the individualistic sense of identity comes to the fore during periods of modernisation in which people fled from rural areas into the cities and were confronted with a mass of different dialects or languages, religions and cultures and were aware of a sense of the difference between where they were and where they are now. Today in some way many people seem to be lost or are so much afraid of such confrontation they do hope their politicians can solve that problem of difference between the inhabitants of their villages, cities and countries.

Fukuyama notes the ways in which questions of identity politics have come to be regarded as synonymous with the right. Donald Trump supporters are animated around the removal of Confederate statues and the president’s lack of defence to political correctness is a significant mobilising force on the right.

Intimidation and efforts to control people have become the present day norm for many politicians, who gain a lot of popularity because many fall for their lies. That virus threatening democracy has not only infected the United States but also the European Union. As such we may see that identity politics has become the political form of cultural fragmentation of these days, and is corrosive of some features of an effective democracy – social cohesion, talking with strangers and working across the aisle.

According to me the politicians do have to give an identity to the people again and have to show them that we all have more in common with each other than what divides us.

It is a “we” who are the same, and not a “we” who are strangers dwelling together despite our differences. {Jeff RichIdentity Crisis – some theses on identity politics}

The End of the End of History?

History shall continue and show how man tries to find different political solutions and ways to govern a country. Man shall have to find a way to make it that by the globalisation more and more people would be going to see the richness of a multicultural society, instead of fearing it.

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  14. Capitalism and economic policy and Christian survey

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Further related

  1. The Origins of Political Order: From Pre-Human Times to the French Revolution, By Francis Fukuyama
  2. What Do We Mean When We Say Something Is Political? — Recommended Readings
  3. The Sisyphean Task at the Core of Identity Politics
  4. Fukuyama has a new book on identity
  5. Little Theories
  6. The Decline of Liberalism
  7. Identity
  8. Identity Crisis – some theses on identity politics
  9. We’re in This Together Now 
  10. Two Books by Francis Fukuyama
  11. What Fukuyama got right.
  12. From ‘End Of History’ To ‘End Of Democracy’ – Why Fukuyama Now Likes China
  13. “Echoing Margaret Thatcher’s dictum that ‘there is no alternative’ …
  14. Social Psychology and Religious Behavior
  15. Francis Fukuyama and technology
  16. Eurasianism: The Struggle For The Multi-Polar World

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