Hamlet says we are born to die. Heinlein says we are born to strife. Both are right of course, and in a way accepting both of these things is the path out of a lot of our cultural quandries.
We were talking about Welfare in its many forms and what it does to people. It started with discussions of writers and artists who use their “minority” or “underprivileged” status (most of them are actually from very privileged backgrounds, having grown up wealthy beyond the dreams of most of us, and wouldn’t know adversity if it bit them in the *ss) to advance fasters, or to advance at all (depending on talent) in a field where others have to work for years or decades for any recognition.
Because I could have used that path, I studied it. My friends were mostly concerned with the fact these people are taking the place of people who have worked for it, the place of people whose background might be far more deprived than theirs, and who are thwarted and held back because someone else is exploiting societal guilt for his/her own benefit. (And btw, societal guilt is the dumbest concept ever. Only someone who knows no history can be consumed with guilt for what his ancestors have done in the far distant past before he was born. It is the combination of the Marxist lie about closed pies that gives them the idea that everything good they have they stole from someone less fortunate in ancestors, and the stupid, a-historical teaching in our schools. They have to believe that instead of slavery being an ancient evil that plagued man forever, it was invented by whites and specifically by white Americans in the dawn of the 18th century. They have to believe that whenever their ancestors were less than clean or nice in war the enemy wasn’t worse. They have to believe the society they live in is uniquely evil. Which means they’re mal-educated morons who don’t even know what they don’t know.)
If the “taking the place of someone more deserving” were the only evil of the situation, I MIGHT (probably not but I might) have talked myself into exploiting that pathway in. But the problems are bigger than that. It starts inside the head of the person playing this gambit. Could they have made it without someone else’s guilt giving him/her a free ride? Sure a lot of them might have been able to, but could they? They’ll never know. Other things they’ll never know: how good they could be. In writing and in all the arts, and I suspect in the sciences too, despair sharpens the struggle to better yourself. “You’ve got to stay hungry.” And yet, take the case of a young black man who came to a writers’ group I’d just joined when I was starting out. He was the son of wealthy parents, had gone to private schools and attended an ivy league college. He brought in a story full of attempted hood speak and depicting events that were brutal but not very interesting (no one had reasons to do anything, other than they were really angry) and which took an awful lot of profanity to tell.
If any of the other newbies had brought that in, people would have beat them with metaphorical sticks. No one said anything bad. Not one person. It was all “this is very interesting”s and “I liked when.” So, I’m me, right? I tore into it as I would tear into the work of someone who was writing, say, a story set in India without ever having been there.
The young man followed me outside, asking for clarification of points. He wasn’t angry at at all, but he was somewhat baffled, because no one had ever told him this. I discussed with him as I would with any other writer, what I’d learned, how I made characters seem important, etc. (mind you, I already knew a lot of technique then, it was the execution that lacked.)
He stopped coming to the group afterwards, and everyone thought it was because I was so mean. I don’t think so. Years later we ran into each other at a store, and he crossed several isles to come tell me what a difference I’d made. You see, he’d already been published, while at … I want to say Harvard, but it might have been Yale. He sent books out with a very “black sounding” pen name, and was picked up by a small press and published but the books didn’t SELL. Apparently he’d gone to his own name (average American name) and had actually had shorts published, for which he was getting fan mail. He’d decided to stop writing about a hood he didn’t know, and start writing about people like himself, split between the identity his upbringing had given him, and the one people tried to force on him. (Which is THE worst problem for minorities in the US.)
I’m not going to say the man was typical. He was a) an extraordinarily gifted writer (even in the stupid pseudo-hood stuff.” And b) smarter than the average person. BUT I’m saying the trap he was in is the trap most minorities who use “minority” to advance (or even they don’t but people know them personally and intuit it) get caught in. The smarter and more honest ones know that they aren’t doing the best they could. Perhaps commercial success evades them. And all they can do is be angry at everyone who will not treat them fairly and help them progress.
From this we went to welfare. Not just in this country, but in many others, (in Portugal it’s gypsies) there are entire populations that are given some sort of dole, and treated as if they were incompetent children. They’re usually given places to live, fed, clothed. Not very well, but well enough that most don’t strive for anything else. (Remember we’re descended from lazy cavemen. The ones who hunted when they didn’t need to both depleted the game and wore themselves down. They didn’t leave many descendants. If we have just enough it kills the germ of strife.)
Sometimes there are reasons for it — as in with tribes in North America, reasons that our ancestors thought good enough — but most of the time, any minority corralled and put on the dole as a whole is someone the rulers were afraid of and wanted to defang. A lot of the welfare of the 20th century came into effect because the rich of the time had bought the communist propaganda that revolution arose from starvation and they thought they could stop communism by going socialist.
It did stop communism from taking over those communities. Also education. Also invention. Also self discipline. Also anything resembling human civilization. In fact those communities started devolving at a fast clip.
The idiots who think all of this is race or DNA linked (like the twits who think time-preference and delaying of gratification are DNA linked.) think this is because these “races” or ethnicities are “inferior.”
Brother. They apparently — not surprising, most are computer-kiddies — never read those old boring biographies written in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.
Most of the “time preference” the ability to delay gratification, etc, is something that must be TAUGHT and taught very early, and reinforced by example. You know when old books talk about spoiling the child? It means failing to teach them that. In those old, boring bios, mostly about British or French people (the ones I read) you come across spoiled children, both of old and new wealth. These are the children who weren’t made to strive. Their ancestors, recent or long ago, had made a lot of money, and they wanted their children to live in sort of an earthly paradise. It never ends well. Those people were destroyed by not having to strive in ways very similar to, if someone higher up the tree, those our welfare recipients suffer from.
Other things they haven’t read was the transformation that hit countries as “bourgeois values” became the norm, around the nineteenth century. The eighteenth century, morally, at least in England, had more in common with our own, before the bourgeoisie at least EXPECTED the rich to behave like the “decent folk.”
Every person that grows up not having to strive, not having to do his/her best is like a spoiled opportunity. They show all the signs of ennui and self-destruction, save for one emotion: hatred. They normally disguise the reason for that hatred from themselves, like our first lady who thinks Harvard was INSUFFICIENTLY welcome to a girl of undistinguished academic background, but at some level, they know they’ve been infantilized and that’s what drives their resentment.
For the vast numbers of welfare recipients, particularly those receiving it “by the numbers” (or the skin color. Or the culture. Or…) it has been generations of being raised in that hatred and resentment, asking for more, though what they need more of is bourgeois values, and to strive.
This applies even to people abroad. For decades America (and to a lesser extent Europe) have fed the world. In poor, f*cked up Africa their best and brightest go work for NGO groups instead of working to improve their country. Would be scientists work as chauffeurs for visiting dignitaries. The food handed down is distributed by kleptocracy (as it is to most welfare victims) which creates little tribes, in which the dignitaries take the lion share and the rest is handed out by tribe and loyalty-pledging.
In other words, we’ve made these feudal societies, not unnakin to the ones our ancestors had to free themselves from; we make it almost impossible to escape them; and we’re shocked these people don’t spontaneously develop bourgeois values.
And then to make things worse we attribute their plight to their genes. I can guarantee to you that if we started treating blue-eyed blonds as a helpless minority and gave them welfare, they’d be the exact same as people who tan better are now, in nor more than three generations.
Or to put it another way, our ancestors gave them welfare because they were scared and wanted to defang them, and now our children despise them because of welfare made them. And simultaneously give them more welfare because they think they’re “not capable” and think them even less capable. Sounds legit. If you know no history or humanity.
Humanity, regardless of color, gender, IQ, was born to strive. Those of us who believe we WERE made but not literally from clay, think we were made from a scavenger species. Our dentition, eating habits, etc, support that.
Scavenger species are an interesting niche. If they get too much food/resources, they ALMOST lose interest in reproducing. Evolutionary this makes sense. IF there’s too many dead animals lying around for you to scavenge, your kids are going to be in lean times. For humans… well, it means that socialism could never conquer the world. We now know that even in its soft, Euro form, it devolves into an old-age home in three generations. Not enough kids.
But beyond that, it also devolves into Welfare-light. Humans do best when they have to work for a living. It gives us a purpose and a focus. Only very broken humans want more after they have a lot. We might be those. Well, I am. The way I’m broken is that I couldn’t stop writing even if I were very wealthy. But it’s an habit. I would have stopped if we’d won the lottery at 23. Probably. But there’s also another thing. I grew up on the edge. I know what it’s like to be hungry. Not very hungry, never more than a meal, but hungry. And I know what it’s like to not be able to afford tons of things, even those that were arguably needed.
What it did is create a NEED for security that has me working to make us so secure nothing can bring us to that situation of need. (So far, unsuccessfully. Must write faster.)
Most of the issues we have today in Western society is that most of the children have never even seen real need. Sure the welfare ones are kept on the edge, but it’s an edge they can’t fall from (even when the adults in their life try.) They will be given just enough to dull their desire to strive.
Even the middle class kids who don’t do much of anything can survive on practically nothing. Sure they won’t have the big house, or the car, or– But their Marxist professors (and school teachers — trust me, I read my kids’ school books) taught them that it’s shameful to have too much, because it means you stole from someone else.
And barring a total collapse, having “just enough” is not hard, without striving. Probably explaining the generation of “middle class artists” who don’t produce any art. And who don’t acquire bourgeois virtues because they don’t NEED them. They can survive without them.
Look at the children of the middle class. Their future, particularly if we keep getting more and more wealthy, is where minorities on generational welfare are now.
How long can it continue? Longish. Sure, you need SOME people who still value work and striving to maintain western civ. But machines and cybernetics reduce that number every year.
What to do? I don’t know. I can imagine a Hunger Games kind of world, but different, in which EVERY child is taken from his parents to be raised in early-twentieth century poverty and striving. I can’t even write that story. I can imagine it, but I can’t write it. Much less implement it. But it might be the only thing that saves us.
Barring, of course, a very careful upbringing and a better us of our resources than to create idle and resentful groups. And an enshrining of striving, working, keeping chaste, investing in the future, at the heart of our society again. A lot can be accomplished with societal and peer pressure.
The question is, do we have the courage to do it? Or are we going to continue slouching towards Bethlehem?