Thursday, 6 April 2017

Believing The Story

"When people heard the same story all the time and had to act as if they accepted it, most just did accept it; maintaining private reservations was too much like hard mental work. And it did help the Protectorate run smoothly..."
-SM Stirling, A Meeting At Corvallis (New York, 2007), Chapter Thirteen, p. 337.

Exactly. Being determines consciousness. Most people most of the time accept pro-status quo ideas. Otherwise, society would not function. People who live in modern republics do not believe in the divine right of kings because they do not have kings and do not believe that slaves or serfs are inferior because they do not have slaves or serfs.

However, experience can contradict received ideas. Some of the people all of the time enquire and think outside the box. Society does not always function. Social relationships, which can oppress individuals with the apparent inevitability of natural relationships, are what people do and people can change what they do, in fact have built present society by changing their environment in the first place. Contradiction and interaction change the world.

6 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Basically, I agree with this blog piece of yours. The point I quibble at being slavery/serfdom. Putting aside moral or religious reasons, there were good sound, practical reasons why slavery and its milder form serfdom faded away. As technology, and the wealth resulting from that increased, it simply did not PAY to have slaves or serfs. They were high stress, high cost solutions to the problem of how to organize labor.

    Sean

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tho' historically, what we regard as 'natural' -- most people making a living by selling their labor-time as a disembodied commodity on a market basis -- has been fairly rare. It's been present often, but not usually the dominant or hegemonic method of organizing labor until the modern period in the West. Usually, labor outside the household setting has been organized in ways involving personal relations of lordship and subordination. And the household (sometimes an extended family) has usually been the most common form of organizing economic life, with relations within it on a non-market basis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mr Stirling,
      Yes. We (humanity in general) have changed things, I thnk for the better, relatively recently and have the ability to continue doing so. (Not the certainty, just the ability.)
      Paul.

      Delete
    2. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      You made good points, ones I should have thought of while composing my first comment. What I commented on above about slavery/serfdom would have been more true of Europe from about AD 1200 onwards.

      Sean

      Delete
  3. Incidentally, considered from a macroeconomic p.o.v., chattel slavery is more similar to capitalism as a system of social organization than it is to, say, medieval manorialism.

    The similarity is that in a slave-based economy (in which chattel slavery is a central institution) the factors of production are mobile and move according to market pricing signals, as in a capitalist economy. In a tribal or feudal economy, the factors are mainly distributed by customary institutions other than the market -- gift-exchange, tribute, feudal dues.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      At least I DID start thinking along those lines, what you said about slaves being a resource like copper, iron, wheat, etc., being a "mobile resource" used or distributed according to market signals.

      Sean

      Delete