Category Archives: sociology

New Socialism – On Class and Intergenerational Mobility

Class is central to the Marxist view on history but seems to have lost the focus of many socialist and social-democratic policies. Revisionism and liberal fiscal theories dominate even the views of traditional socialist parties, whose policies are often reduced to limiting income disparity and preserving public services.

Class cuts across generations stifling individuals with the inheritance of ownership of capital. The origin of the class conflict of capital interest is the loss of the means of subsistence by the working class and the subsequent accumulation of capital by capitalists. Even in our time, the income gap continuous to grow and the accumulation of capital continues to rise. This law of capitalism resists most efforts to level distribution of capital in revisionist socialist countries. Old Socialism reacts to this inequality by attempts to disown property owners and nationalize wealth, and considered class over individual. Since private property lies at the root of the class conflict between those with and those without, those with should be disowned in order to create a new society where capital ownership is socialized. New Socialism considers class and group identity only as an attribute of the individual, not as an independent entity.

Central to the new socialist debate on class is the intergenerational mobility or persistence of wages. Capitalism despite its promise of individual liberty, traps the individual in their class and intergenerational mobility is the lowest in those societies where capitalism has progressed furthest, in the US (defying the American Dream) and the UK. Many of the public services policies are not aimed to liberate the individual from this capitalist class trap, but only to sooth the disparity stemming from it by lowering access to basic education and healthcare. Revisionism has suffocated the aspiration of the traditional working class to free themselves from the class funnel.

NYTimes – Class Matters: An Overview
A Family Affair: Intergenerational Social Mobility across OECD countries
The Lancet – Child Development in Developing Countries

Hollandic centricism, fear of Islam and the Limburgic Renaissance

In 1992, the Dutch government and other European governments signed the Treaty of Maastricht, which concluded the transfer of many policy responsibilities from the national European governments to the centralized institutions of the European Union. There was a minority of intellectual skepticism against this centralization of national autonomy but a much broader popular sentiment feared the loss of national cultural identity. Fifteen years later in 2007, this popular sentiment culminated in the rejection of the European Constitution in a referendum by the Dutch voters. But we can also conclude that although the Treaty of Maastricht did weaken national governments, it strengthened the popular awareness of regional identity at the cost of national identities that have been promoted especially in the nineteenth century. At the same time, a more abstract European identity also emerged, and this is paradoxically used against new cultural influences from recent Muslim immigration. In the Netherlands, these anti-Muslim sentiments are vocalized by the flamboyant neo-right politician Geert Wilders. Wilders was born and raised in Limburg, the most southern province in the Netherlands, and it is his political heartland. Wilders’ party the PVV won twice as many votes in Limburg as the national average, 11% versus 5.8%. What are the underlying historic roots beneath this Limburgic phenomenon? Continue reading

Bag the Flag

“Must the citizen even for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward.”
Henry David Thoreau

When I went running at McCarren Park this morning the zone behind the goal on the west side was occupied by a company of cadets. These fresh bodies still have minds and remnants of independent critical thought, a vague sign of a free citizen. However, all wore the same uniform dress already, shiny marine training pants, some in red t-shirts with yellow text circled on their chests, others in gray army t-shirts with stout black ARMY capitals and an amputated Adidas logo on their backs, symbol for their enslavement to the commercial interests of the government. At least they were to look ready for compliance.

McCarren Park is a public park of course, so everyone is allowed, although to hold military exercises in the heart of Williamsburg, is obviously a provocation by the Imperial Army. For the group of cadets it is of course a day of low-pressure training, but to plant the company’s flag in the park’s black soil, militarizing the public space by uniforms, is just another step of this standing army to occupy the public mind. The credo to “Support our Troops” is to the shallow thinker a very sympathetic slogan, but it assumes the relief of the citizen who joins the standing army of his moral duty and the release from the obligation of consciousness that the free individual serves. But at no point, can an individual citizen be relieved of his own judgment at all times, and the contractual obligation of duty to a government at no time overrides the call of freedom. No man can be denied to refuse an order by an equal man at any time.

When Henry David Thoreau wrote his essay “Civil Disobedience” in 1849, shortly after the war of aggression against Mexico Continue reading

One Day at Six Flags

Spending the day at Six Flags Great Adventure is a day of fun and thrills, good old irreflective joy that is best and most naturally enjoyed by children. The thrill is foremost generated by the battery of rollercoasters that exist in the park, fastest and tallest of them all: Kingda Ka. Now, I should start off by admitting that I am a Stoic, that is I am disinterested in thrills, I am hard to get thrilled, but if I am, it bores me. It is possible that there is a deeply rooted subconscious fear for the understood irrationality of a thrill that prevents me from experiencing the direct sensation of physical shocks. So while everyone else ventured to enjoy the rides, I sauntered through the park observing the archetypical American specimen indulging in fast rides and fast food.

Six Flags is not the kind of entertainment park I envied as a child growing up in the Netherlands. My impression of an entertainment park is based on my childhood memory of The Efteling, a theme park based on Dutch artist Anton Pieck, whose drawings are best compared to Walt Disney’s in the Anglo-Saxon context, but are much more romantic and close to East-European animation tradition. So it was to be expected that I would be a little disappointed in the low scale high thrill adventure park Six Flags. One of the things that goes unseen by the eyes of a child, is how cheap some of the decoration of an entertainment park is build. Only exception to the rule is perhaps the Houdini’s Great Escape, an attraction gravely dismissed by true thrill seekers. But I found it more imaginative and appealing, because of its visual effects that disturb your sense of orientation, in contrast to the more simple and straightforward thrill of fast and wild rides on the rollercoasters.

At arrival and passing the initial parking gates, you drive over a gigantic asphalt lot, which sheer size is so monumental that it is hard to imagine the massive appeal of the park. The entrance gates are constructed in an efficient and practical fashion, leading to the Looney Tunes lane, basically the exit instead of the entrance, designed to lure the souvenir haunting guests on their way out. Here Looney Tune characters like Bugs Bunny, Tweetie Pie and Sylvester in costume will pose with you for a picture… for money, obviously. Alas, you see, this is where my socialist education ruins my childish sense for naive fun, I see the scavenging Official Six Flags Photographers not the Tweetie, I see the chasing souvenir salesperson not Sylvester.

The False Consciousness of American Sociology

The knowledge of sociology is a branch of sociology with roots in Max Scheler and Karl Mannheim. In essence it studies and formulates the relationship between human knowledge and its social context. For anyone with a lack of Marxist training, this school of sociology is very flattering and tempting because it postulates in its core the independence of human thinking, and it is easy to see for anyone the temptation of the knowledge of sociology for American academics.

Americans grow up in a system of thought that has erased any trace of Marxist thinking. In a educational system that is dominated and controlled by, serving the interests of the capitalist stratum of society it is absolutely pas fault to be a Marxist. The sporadic surges in the American labor movement of the early 20th century and the 1970s, has de facto been rooted out effectively by the religious and patriottic ideologies of the ruling elites. The predominant ideology in society has become unchallenged and forms a core set of believes that centers around the freedom of the individual’s will.

Not surprisingly the sociology of knowledge finds many enthusiastic believers in America, who refute the original thought of Marxism. But their dissection of the super structure of consciousness fails to deal satisfactory with the existence of class interests and technological structures. This idealism of the post-Marx school is nothing more or less than a solution of original Marxism with bourgeois thinking and capitalist interests. And thus, the sociology of knowledge is poison to the interest of the working class, and is the first layer of defense of capitalism in the form of a bourgeois proxy. It is the middle-class who have sold out to the capitalist class, defending capitalist interests in return for a crumb of the accumulated wealth of the ruling class and a voice in its structure of power. Continue reading

Divine Strings Attached

The definition of religion is traditionally strongly tied to the concept of a deity. When we speak of religion many people will think of Christianity, Islam of Buddhism. But this is a very narrow minded view of religion, more closely bound to socio-political history and existing and known religions than to the very idea of religion. The religious idea however should be seen in term of physics and psychology. Afterall, religion deals with the perception of life, man and the world, the interpretation of this perception and the attachment of values to these perceptions.

In a more inclusive definition of the term, religion deals with every supernatural object, event and interpretation. In concreto, we should categorize the celebration of birthdays and New Year, and also language and concepts of our imagination in so far it does not represent directly or indirectly physical objects and physically knowable forces and their interactions, such as ‘soul’, ‘god’, ‘word’, ‘hope’, ‘value’ or ‘meaning’. As far as I know, there does not exist a table of the hierarchy of abstraction, which depicts the level of indirect representation, but obviously most words directly or indirectly in some degree represent a concrete object or interaction. Spoken in the metaphore of mathematics, the unknown variables of our knowledgeable world might be defined as necessarily concrete, but until known they too would be part of the religious world. Continue reading

The Mischievous Misleader of Friendship and Family

I am not a mystical character, one needs not much courage to even claim I am quite the opposite. So, it is no surprise, that happiness cannot easily mislead me, not for the rare and short moments that we are fully conscious of it, not for the long constant periods where the strongest proof of our happiness expresses itself as oblivious numbness of the mind. This dullness is what most people strive for in life, it is what they sacrifice their moments of high achievements for, it is whey they conglomerate into social clumps of family and friendship. This mischievous misleader is not subject to great inquiry in general, yet most people depend on it greatly and many laws are based upon it.

So, if we all depend so greatly on family and friends, is it really to be trusted? Personally, I have no high hopes as with regards to the trustworthiness of friendship or family. At least with marriage, we are bound by an underlying legal contract, in which our rights are guaranteed by law, allowing us to sue the the opposite contractee, but with family and friends we completely depend on honor, duty and the character of the partner. Now, this might work with some, but most people are statistically notorious apostates. I know few who have the character and strength to rely on, and I myself struggle often with the daemons that seduce me to betray those whom expect my loyalty. And family we do not choose freely, so we are bound against our will. Now, most people solve this moral dilemma by simply altering and reshaping their wills, at the cost of which come the treacherous desire to break promises, create secrecy and burden themselves with shame.

Many people of our time, like in any time and day, lament about the loss of the sense of community, but being true to fact and reason, I admit this is one of our great leaps forward in evolution. Continue reading

Growing Phases of Interest

Now there’s nothing in this, that should suggest that there’s a hierarchy of interest that allowed me reach closer to a absolute truth, if this is what will be the aftertaste that lies on your tong, it’s too bitter of a taste for me to offer you. However, I should not want to exclude the impression that I learned anything from this.

My earliest exceptional interest in life, was that associated with the development of the body. I was an excellent athlete, and I was a devoted and serious soccer player until my sixteenth. This interest, which offered me an excelling outlet of my capacities in life, allowed me to reach a respectable level at the young age I owed at that time. But, as I grew older and physically more mature, my interest in soccer, due to a coincidence of events, was lost, and I became exceptionally interested in philosophy and in its peripheries, literature and psychology. It was with excelling interest that I devoured most classics from Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, and the literary classics as the local curriculum prescribed them. Once, I established firmly the meaning of life, I turned to my professional skills, and related to it, I developed a deeper interest for science.

These stages of interest, or the growing phases of interest, could be of course a simple coincidence of events that led me to cross certain paths in life, like rolling dice. But what if they represented a physical and neurological immaturity, that I strived to overcome, first Continue reading