The Latest in False Advertisement: Social Justice

I don’t believe in “social justice”—at least not the all-inclusive, clear-cut meaning the phrase has adopted thus far in 2016.  Don’t hate me, I’m all for pursuing legitimate social justice, but I think the present understanding of the phrase represents a hoax, a fraud; an illusion like those for which Karl Marx held such disdain. Let me explain why.

As a student in Professor Lisa Disch’s Introduction to Political Theory this winter, I’ve been intrigued by the lively in-class discussions about readings by authors whose views are in direct opposition. Typically, each side’s argument appears sound when examined independently; however, when juxtaposed, there is a clear disparity in how each party has been affected by the other’s decision-making. 

With that said, let me draw your attention to The ‘Mudsill’ Theory, brought to you by James Hammond. Hammond insists that society must have a lower class (“mudsills”) to perform the menial labor that supports the upper class.

Since I was just as curious as you are, I Googled the reasoning behind his use of the word “mudsill,” which resulted in the following:

 

 

Unfortunately, I don’t think this sentiment has vanished along with the use of the word mudsill. From wealthy politicians praising the efforts of the “hardworking, everyday Americans,” (as opposed to the “weekday Americans”) to the dangerous, often undesirable jobs reserved for undocumented immigrants, it’s clear that those at the top justify their positions through some watered-down version of this argument. Even if it’s tempting, we can’t fully blame Hammond for corrupting America with this idea. He simply broadcasted his thought process more explicitly than many before him had chosen to do.

Think about it–justice for one group almost always implies a degree of injustice for another. I found myself coming to this realization while strolling through “Social (In)Justice,” a cleverly titled art exhibit. In particular, one piece stood out as a powerful commentary on the American Settlement. “Men of Iron,” by Willie Cole, beautifully depicts the paradox that is social justice. It illustrates a simple truth of human interaction: there are two sides to every story. 

By imagining the settlement from a Native American’s perspective, a degree of depth is added to Willie Cole’s depiction of irons. Irons are used to make a clothing item’s texture even or homogeneous. However, irons are extremely hot, and heterogeneity isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The white settlers metaphorically ironed over Native American communities and culture, and they didn’t feel how that might burn because they were holding the safe, cool part of the iron. 

So if society’s current understanding of social justice is just an illusion, what should we do about it?  Ultimately, it comes down learning to look at the world from another person’s perspective. If we have any hope of achieving social justice in a non-utopian society, it must start with decisions founded on mutual benefit, respect, and understanding

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Finals Week: Who Will You Be?

It’s the official start of finals week.Your schedule seems like it couldn’t be busier, your classes seem to have assignments popping out of nowhere, and your bed seems like it’s always empty. With this chaotic week beginning, there are many different ways that students handle their stress and time. Some classes offer study sessions (one GSI even held a 12-hour review session this past weekend) where students can work with their peers to help understand the material, while other students prefer the quiet individual studying in their room or a library. Either way, this week is all about time management. When and how you study contributes to your success. So, when my friend texted me the other day asking for my help on one of her assignments, I told her “no” because it didn’t benefit me and my studying. Which got me thinking, “Who would help her in this situation?”

There are two separate options in this example: The friend that helps and the friend that says no, like me. These two different types of people represent the views of two very different philosophers, Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. One would help the friend in a heartbeat, arguing that everyone’s best interest is the most beneficial way to life in this society, where the other would undoubtedly protect their own self interest, with the belief that every man should live for himself. So, during this upcoming week, who will you be?

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes

Hobbes believed that human beings were sophisticated machines and, as a result, all functions and activities could be explained in purely mechanistic terms. However, he also acknowledged the animal nature within human nature, and believed that everyone acted in their own self-interest. They are content with their success, no matter the state of others around them. He emphasizes in his piece, the Leviathan, that people are focused on “competition of riches, honor command, or other power, inclineth to contention, enmity, and war.” A student who follows the Hobbesean ideals would thrive on other’s failures, therefore not looking out for the friend who asks for help when studying.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Rousseau, on the other hand, believed in human kindness and pity. He argued the importance of not having a sovereign within society, and that looking out for everyone’s self-interest is the most beneficial to a successful community. He states in his work, On the Social Contract“At once, in place of the individual person of each contracting party, this act of association produces a moral and collective body composed of as many members as there are voices in the assembly, which receives from this same act its unity, its common self, its life and its will.” If a student supports this idea, then they would’ve responded immediately and offered their help to the friend, rationalizing that if everyone looks out for each other, then the entirety of the class would benefit.

The viewpoints are on different sides of the spectrum, but seem to fit the general uncertainty of how to study for finals. Personally, I think that both strategies can form success, it just depends on the person. Either way, here’s to wishing students the best of luck on their finals, and hoping that, as according to Hobbes, their exams don’t result in a “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” life afterwards.

On The Dangers Being “Lesser”

I was maybe 5 when I realized I was different than the majority of my friends. I had long hair, they had short. When our mommies made the kids look nice for church, I wore a dress, and they got to wear pants. Never mind the fact that I preferred to have my hair short and out of my face or that I would rather have gone naked than wear a skirt. I was different than my friends–who happened to be boys. I was different because I was a girl.  But why was I different? At the time I only realized that I wasn’t the same as them because I got to wear bows; it never crossed my mind that maybe, just maybe I might be “lesser” than them because of my perceived differences.

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Identity in Sports

A Black-belt Taekwondo fighter. Credits to Wikimedia Commons.

Identity was always an issue that I struggled with while living in America. As a Korean-American, I was born in South Korea and came to the United States when I was one year old. I remember growing up in predominantly African-American and Caucasian communities. My unique upbringing allowed me to be immersed in a tossed salad of various cultures at an early age. Although I was blessed with the opportunity to learn and appreciate diversity, I always felt a subtle yearning to want to learn more about my own heritage. Luckily, my parents had always been supportive of giving me opportunities to learn about Korean culture. Around the age of 12, when I had just gotten into middle school, I was given the chance to take Taekwondo classes. Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and sport that teaches self-discipline and self-defense over other things. You must learn how to garner a mentality of respect for yourself and those around you. However, it also teaches you to be direct and straightforward with your intentions. Such principles are seen in the martial art where every kick or punch is firmly pronounced; there must be no hesitation whether or not you strike. Taekwondo is a dynamic Korean sport primarily known for its power kicks (more impact than sweeping momentum) and leg swings.

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Morals vs. Capitalists

While reading Marx and Engels Manifesto of the Communist Party, I was able to gain a really good sense of their idea of society’s class system, and where it stems from. I was also able to learn and understand the different goals of a capitalist and what their workers expectations are as well. I personally cannot imagine living in a capitalist economy. If I had to, I don’t think I would be able to survive, knowing that it’s all about the capitalist’s profit and about how cheap they can get someone to work. I feel as though that would go against America’s morals, although we may not have many strong ones, I must say that the fact we don’t have this type of economy shows that someone was thinking of the majority rather than just themselves or a small group of people.

Marx and Engels

Marx and Engels

The whole price theorem for the worker and price theorem for the capitalist put me at a great disposition. The fact that the reproduction of the worker has no value to the capitalist doesn’t sit well with me at all. Yes i know gaining a profit at anything you invest in is something you aim for and one of the main reasons you invest in something, but I feel like it shouldn’t be the main thing you should be concerned about. I feel like the happiness and well being of your employees should be your first priority because when it comes to making you money, they are the ones representing you and doing the work you need to be done to actually make a profit. Therefore, to make sure you make the best and most honest profit, your employees well being and ability to reproduce should be important in maintaining your credibility and relationship with not only our employees, but also society in general. If word gets out that your best interest isn’t your employees or you don’t care about them and treat them any sort of way. they will end up quitting and no one will want to work for you.

Capitalism

Capitalism

That’s just how I feel. I know not everyone thinks that way and not everyone cares about the lives and well being of their employees as long as their work gets done, but I feel like you can’t expect the best if you don’t give the best or put forth your best and I feel like that’s where Marx and Engels went wrong in their theory of capitalism and social classes in general. I felt like they were a bit too negative in their thinking of other individuals. I could be wrong, maybe I’m too naive and too nice about how I think people actually think or the morals they have.

McDonald’s: What exactly is it?

Yes, as pathetic and cliché that it may sound, I have worked at McDonald’s. Where I grew up, McDonald’s was “the” job that every high-schooler held, and I was one of many that swallowed my pride and got a job there. After being a part the corporation for over two years, I learned all the nooks and crannies of what McDonald’s has to offer. But, even after working at the bottom of the food chain, I never quite realized how political the system was until reading Marx and Engels’s work, The Manifesto of the Communist Party

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More Than A Women

A couple of years ago while I played on a U.S. academy soccer team which was a bunch of guys who wanted to pursue a career in soccer after high school, so it is easy to say that the atmosphere of it all was pretty competitive. Every practice, we always had this one girl who trained with us. Her name was Summer and she was committed to play soccer at the University of North Carolina. I remember the first practice she came too, everyone was thinking why is this girl playing with us, she’s going to be slower than us or weaker than us. Once we began playing, she was literally just as good or even better than most of us. We were all so surprised. But in retrospect, I ask the question to why is it that we just think that because she was a girl she wouldn’t be as good as us?

andymead.photoshelter.com

andymead.photoshelter.com

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