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Whose [American dream] is it?



  • Fallout2manFallout2man Registered User regular
    edited July 2012
    I don't think anyone was seriously trying to claim that individualism equals doing things entirely on your own. When we say someone is a self made man, we do not mean that he literally accomplished everything in his life on his own, just that he was the architect of his success, and used the efforts of other people and the resources society provides to achieve that success. When I. Think individualism vs collectivism in this context, the idea that springs to mind is a small group banding together to strike out for great success based on their own merits and ideas (think startup) vs a community coming together to hold a block party. Both involve people working together, but the former is people working together for individual success (they each want to get rich, and don't neccessarily care about the group as a whole gettin rich) and the latter is people working for the community benefit of having a party that is enjoyed by all. Mark Zuckerberg worked with people to start up Facebook, but would anyone really say he wasn't an individualist looking out for number one?

    One of the things I've been realizing lately is how while we often don't realize it many people include their own subjective bias in how they make use of language. Now, while you yourself may not mean that if you were to give a speech to someone you might walk away with a good percentage of the audience believing exactly that. What information they glean from your talk can be based on any number of possible factors that have them, perhaps entirely unconsciously, editing and fitting your speech to be fully understandable and relevant within their minds. So the definitions of words when used in certain contexts can, at times be taken widely different than might have originally been intended.

    This is why a phrase like self-made man, which can sound innocuous at first can turn into a problematic turn of phrase since its meaning can be co-opted politically by people ardent on ensuring a new permanent aristocracy of wealth. When the GOP cynically edits Obama's quotes and puts up angry small businessmen outraged at this out of context quote saying "Government never helped me!" it becomes obvious they are intending to imprint a literal reading of the above onto people's minds. Because if people believe you can succeed independently they are able to be sympathetic to the plight of millionaires and billionaires. It makes them believe in an unrealistic chance of joining their ranks someday. Thus, enabling them to vote against their real short and long-term economic interests entirely because of a clever fantasy created via politicking.

    In the current political context individualism essentially is a phrase used to justify the removal of restrictions and policies which would infringe upon the wealthy, corporations, or other powerful interest group's freedom to make use of capital as they please without Gubb'mint interfering. Viewing that this is the goal the language used being that of venerating individual achievement and success it becomes obvious the message is "Hey guys, look, you can succeed on literally nothing but hard work, nope, nothing else. You just need to get government out of the way! Yes, you see it's government interference that's secretly keeping people like you from just being handed fat wads of cash. So vote for us, we'll set loose the free market, making you rich!" So it does become about being able to do something without receiving any other help from anyone else.

    Individual ownership of success or failure is really irrelevant because the point of the message is to sell an illusion to voters so that they'll vote for policies that would seem economically suicidal if they didn't believe that they could all become make Magic Mega-Wealth on just the sweat of their brow if it weren't for Uncle Sam.
    Vanguard wrote: »
    The visibility of something is not an indicator of privilege.

    Go do some fucking research Jesus Christ.

    You should be more specific when you say that. "Research" can mean a lot of things to different people and is rarely carried out with academic level rigor. If you want to suggest something and actually be helpful, it's good to recommend specific titles the person involved can read. After all, what if he grabs a book on privilege written by Romney donors that talks about those entitled poor whining for handouts? :p

    Fallout2man on
    On Ignorance:
    Kana wrote:
    If the best you can come up with against someone who's patently ignorant is to yell back at him, "Yeah? Well there's BOOKS, and they say you're WRONG!"

    Then honestly you're not coming out of this looking great either.
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    There's also the problem that they see themselves as entitled to all that government aid because of taxes they've paid in over their lifetime, but young whippersnappers are sucking on the government teat and we need to lower taxes because socialism!.

    Which is beautiful in its terrible symmetry.

    Ironically, the greatest generation is soundly not entitled to social security based on taxes paid, sine they were all thrown into our pay as you go retirement system without having paid. . .

    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    I wonder quite a bit at the poor people who support the GOP ans get up in arms in defense of the rich when it's implied that they didn't get there just through hard work. It never made much sense to me.

    Then when SKFM brought up the implications inherent in terms like bootstrapping and self made it clicked.

    Rich understand the implications, but hate that anyone would suggest they didn't work hard to get there...which is understandable.

    The middle class understands the implications, but realize becoming rich is as much about circumstance and luck as hard work.

    The poor don't have and don't know about the help and support. They may get minimal assistance, but they don't understand subsidies, small business loans, the GI bill, how bankruptcy and corporations are the government protecting individuals from the risk of bad outcomes. To them, anyone they see who makes it out does it by fighting and clawing every inch of the way and assume that's how it is for everyone who is wealthy. They are so removed from the privilege of parents that can invest tens of thousands of dollars in a startup, or afford special tutors, that they don't realize just how much privilege actually exists.

  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    I'm a little more cynical than that. The rich believe they made it in their own because it justifies their superiority. The poor like I believe the rich made it purely through hard work because, generally, the willingness to work very hard for very low return is one of their main assets. If they can't get out of poverty only by working hard, they probably can't get out at all.

    JihadJesus on
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