I’m a bookish person — I know, astound you — who lives at least ninety percent of the time in her own head. This led to some really weird times in my childhood, where I could see the ideal world so clearly but it just didn’t mesh with reality. So I would say things like “money should be abolished” because you know, people should just trade for what they needed.
I was never stupid enough to believe top-down control would work to give to each according to their needs, and I didn’t even believe a computer could do it, because I was you know, reading science fiction and so primed for “how this goes wrong” even before I understood the concept of GIGO. (I.e. he who controls the computer, controls the world.)
But I also could see, as every bookish, idealistic kid can, the chasm between what people deserve and what they, by and large, get.
I was, of course, also not very clued in to the real world, so if someone say wasn’t doing too well at work, to me that was the most unfairest thing ever, not realizing that in a complex adult life there’s always something that is far less than perfect. The older I get the more I give thanks on bended knee that the area of my life that’s always been less than perfect is the career and the area of life that’s close to wholly satisfactory is my marriage and my kids. Because, screw the world, and my oeuvre, I’d sacrifice them all and the price of a cup of coffee besides if it means my kids would be all right.
Of course, even there there’s no guarantees. There’s never any guarantees.
The cry of “but it isn’t fair” is an infant (or bookish adolescent) cry, because as you grow up you realize the world is way more complex than that. Way more complex.
You can’t eliminate money, because the world is not the village, and there are trades far more complicated than a chicken for a large sack of onions. Money is an imperfect means of exchange, because humans are imperfect beings. But it is the best way to retain and transport value, until you’re ready to trade. And it gives way more flexibility to a trade than “what I have on hand right now” for “what you have on hand right now”
I mean in what other way could my distributed fans pay me for my stories with the result of whatever the heck they do for a living, including but not limited to healing the sick. Even I am not always sick. Even a doctor doesn’t always need a story told.
I think I realized that around 14. It always surprises me when other people don’t, and when they keep looking for different ways to distribute wealth than “what I have for what I want.” Even if what you have is your time, or your company. Marx’s crazy is that someone, someone else, extraneous to each individual making the exchange should control all the exchanges. Worse, a group of someone’s should.
I’m not sure where he got that stupid idea, given that he too was a bookish man, and therefore probably not happy with crowds. I think perhaps it was the gregarious Engels’ idea, and Marx went along with it, because like the perfect grifter, he couldn’t disappoint his patron.
Also being bookish and educated, both of them had the strange admiration of intellectuals for those they assume to be brutes, all want and muscle. Frankly it would have been better for civilization if both of them had dissipated that bullsh*t in a physical way by tumbling a muscular, illiterate wench or three. Oh, wait, Marx did that with the household help, and produced a son who was a carpenter, and therefore much more useful than his poisonous daddy who never recognized him (of course. I mean, why would he admit to fathering a son with the maid?)
Marx’s successors and worshipers have invested that power of the crowd the only way it can be invested: in governmental bodies. Which are somehow supposed to be perfectly fair and perfectly impartial and perfectly able to arbitrate over imperfect humans. No, don’t ask me how, being composed of humans. I’m not an idiot. I’ve seen bureaucracies up close and personal, and know the sausage at the end of the process might not contain any elements of what is intended. I don’t advocate such nonsense.
Ah, but if the illusion of the “but it isn’t fair” were just monetary, it would do less harm.
I never had the illusion of “I can be anything I want.” I’m not stupid. I was sickly when I was born — premature — in an unheated house in the middle of a snow storm. I remained sickly. Mostly because my immune system tries to kill me every so often.
By the time I was twelve, I’d spent most of my life in bed, and given that Portugal hadn’t yet adapted to the idea antibiotics existed (and to be fair, mostly we had various generations of penicillin which has limits) in seclusion. This means I spent a lot of time when I’d rather be tramping around in the sunshine, or playing with my friends, in a room that didn’t even have a window (it was the middle room of a shotgun apartment) reading comics or playing with legos and inventing friends.
Either because of long periods of inactivity and seclusion, or because I was born premature, I was always incredibly uncoordinated. Most of the games my friends played, when I joined school, were not games I could play, no matter how much I tried. Jump rope remains an unattainable achievement. The elastic game (two girls hold a loop of elastic around their legs and stand about six feet apart, then one jumps in the middle, through a number of set figures in you either don’t touch or touch and warp the elastic in prescribed ways, each time in a more complicated movement) was beyond my attainments, even at its simplest. Even when I put the elastic around two chairs and practiced, I couldn’t get past the “baby figures.” That other people, even the dumb ones, could do this, was a source of wonder to me, but I wasn’t stupid enough to think I could do it, simply by wishing so. Or, as I realized after a month of fruitless practice, even with much hard hardheadedness and work.
My body simply didn’t work right when it came to coordination and movement. It wasn’t fair, but there also wasn’t a whole heck of a lot anyone could do. I accepted what my body was, spent most of my recesses walking around, balancing on the edge of the flower beds, and eventually sitting in a corner with a good book or twenty.
In the long run it turns out that heavy reading — particularly considering my future profession — was far more useful than being able to do the elastic game. On the other hand, maybe I’d be svelte and healthy had I been able to play the elastic game for five years of my youth. Who knows? Maybe some of the girls who exceeded at the elastic game would now be very happy if they could write books and get paid, which they might be able to do if they’d spent five years reading at recess. Who knows?
Beyond economics, each of us is such a complex net-weave of influences, genetics, events that left their mark, the ideas we were exposed to, the dreams we dream, and oh, yeah, our bodies and the aptitudes and health of our bodies.
“It’s not fair” is as meaningless to this as to anything else.
Yesterday I ran into — in an otherwise sensible article — this kind of crazy, yeah, the kind of crazy that inspired the #metoo movement. I won’t go into the lady’s claims of #metoo in the business world, except to say I doubt them, because she’s about my age, and even in Portugal stuff like asking someone to come discuss business in a hotel alone with you so you can take advantage of her was already frowned upon.
But one of her claims was that yeah, me too was necessary as long as women couldn’t walk safely alone at night. Me too was necessary as long as women had to “endure” stuff muttered or called out to them. And this should stop.
This is when my head hit desk with force.
You know who else can’t walk safely alone at night (unless armed): small men.
We are a bimorphic species with females being, on average, substantially smaller and weaker than men. (Note on average. Don’t tell me about Russian women power lifters and cubicle geeks.) As long as that’s true, you can’t make the world safe for women. Why not? Because there’s always going to be one bad seed. It’s not that most men even need to be taught not to rape. The sane ones would rather self-castrate. But in six or seven billion (or five, depending on how much face you put in UN numbers) there’s always going to be a few million bad seeds. And male bad seeds will manifest in rape and violence, just as most women bad seeds manifest in manipulation, extortion and poisoning.
You can’t make the world safe for smaller and weaker people. You can only make women good at defending yourselves. Self defense — the extreme defense of your right to life — is your most basic right, and if you know other people are stronger and larger than you, either because you’re a woman, because you’re sickly, or because you’re young or old (and all of us will go through this at some point) it is your own duty to make sure you’re safe.
The world is not a kindergarten. There is no benevolent teacher to ensure fairness.
And as for trying to change humans themselves, that always ends in mass graves. Hundreds of thousands of mass graves.
Oh, and the same goes for the “stuff called out and muttered.” Men are, by virtue of their form and function, more interested in sex than women. Again, on average, by and a large, statistically. Don’t compare your local female nympho to your local male celibate. There are always extremes, but the way to bet is the other way. Women crave connection and relationship, men crave sex.
Yeah, there’s a point we meet in the middle, and women can crave sex in a relationship as much or more than men.
But women — in general, grosso modo — don’t crave sex with random strangers. So you won’t see a gaggle of say female office workers, standing on a corner calling out “Mmmmm, you’re so fine” to male strangers, no matter how fine the strangers are, or how uncouth the females.
But men, in general, crave sex. So, yeah, male construction workers are going to stand on the corner and go “mmmmm, you so fine” and worse at passing strange women. And depending on how uncouth and desperate they are, this might be a lot more explicit, and the “fine” might extend to my dumpy, middle aged self.
This is again the price you pay for being in a bimorphic species. Men have all the cravings and instincts of pre-human and certainly pre-civilized great apes. The good ones control them, but there will always be a bad seed.
Don’t like it? Find another species. Stop trying to make women into men (“you should sleep with a lot of people. That’s liberating” and “if you’re a stay at home mom, you betray your gender”) and stop trying to make men into women.
Not only will this crazy fill many graves, it will make sure a lot of people are never born and those who are already here have miserable lives.
Accept the world isn’t fair. Yeah, women, someone is always going to look at you funny, make a clumsy pass, be an idiot.
If you give the government power to stop that; if you take off like a pack of baying hounds and destroy the career of every guy who ever looked at you cross eyed; if you embrace identity over rationality; if you demand equality over liberty; if you elevate the collective over the individual, it always ends the same way.
“Fairness” seems like a beautiful call. The end is always death and destruction.
In the real world there is no such thing as equality. The only equality to be found is in the grave, where we all decompose the same way.
Beware when you demand others twist themselves out of shape for you. The mob will come for you eventually. You too will dance to its rough music.