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Elitism vs Equality: Tension

Hello guys,

thanks Lucio for creating the sub-forum values. I share your opinion that it is an important topic.

I think there is a major tension between 2 values:

Elitism: the idea that one is superior and therefore deserves more. I think it is linked to master morality. Country/Cultures with a lot of hierarchical structures: Japan, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, etc.

Egalitarianism (or Equality, I wanted to keep the title short): the idea that we're all the same, and therefore that we all deserve the same. I think it is linked to slave morality. Country/Cultures with flatter hierarchical structures: Canada, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, etc.

Any comment on this idea?

Cheers!

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Another important idea that I found some time ago: the intelligence of a group is determined by the sum total of the intelligence of its members. When one is not allowed to express themselves in a group, for instance because only the boss is allowed to have ideas or express them, the group is less smart. I think that is why small equalitarian countries are way richer than larger more hierarchical ones. In small equalitarian countries, more people participate. For instance:

If you have a country of 5 million people and 90% of its population is educated and is able to contribut intellectually to the improvement of the group, it makes 4.5 million people working together for the improvement of the country.

If you have a country of 10 million people and only 50% of its population is educated, it only makes 5 million people working together for the improvement of the country.

Openness and Education makes advanced society where people are feeling like they're contributing to the society.

Yeah, that makes sense, John.

I'm not so sure about the relationship between egalitarian and equalitarian societies when it comes to actual countries and well-being, since Japan, Germany, Switzerland are some of the richest, highest standard of living countries.

But I agree with the general concept you share.

There are different ways of looking at "elitism", I think.
I think here you're referring a lot to "elitism" as in the sense of "title-related elitism", such as "I'm the boss, so you listen to me", which is the most annoying and possibly most damaging in terms of actual result.

But if "elitism" were to mean "the best performer, and the one's who's shown to be most experienced has more status / weight in the decision making", then we would to a different type of system that would probably out-perform the perfectly egalitarian system.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on January 11, 2021, 7:53 pm

Yeah, that makes sense, John.

I'm not so sure about the relationship between egalitarian and equalitarian societies when it comes to actual countries and well-being, since Japan, Germany, Switzerland are some of the richest, highest standard of living countries.

That is exactly my point. This is not a fight, I'll say it first. Have you lived in those countries? That is what I learned in Switzerland. Swiss people have money but many are lonely, overworked and unhappy. Of course, it does not look like that from the outside. "We're so rich". But we pay our wealth dearly, I can tell you. That is why I wrote this piece. As you know I explored most of the nordic countries: Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland. And these societies look like the Switzerland I grew up when I was a child. People are more relaxed and warmer than Swiss people. What I'm writing here is part theory, part experience:  it's based on my observations. I've not lived per se in these countries, but I travelled enough to notice the difference. Japan? I travelled there as well. I would be very unhappy there. People are even more neurotic than in Switzerland. It builds great things through perfectionism. But life is not perfect. I prefer the mix of chaos and order.

But I agree with the general concept you share.

What I learned by travelling to Denmark for instance, is that all people want is the ability to climb Maslow's pyramid. I observed nordic people and I learned that:

When you have a job you like, a girlfriend/wife you like, friends you like, hobbies you like and money to travel, buy toys and have some leisures, that's it. You don't need anything else. People there have a simple life but a happier life I think. There is alcoholism, poverty, nastiness and all these kinds of things, yes. But people are aware that life is simple. They tend not to overcomplicate things. And that comes from the general consideration that society is better if more people can fulfill their needs. Once again, I've not lived there but that's what I've observed.

There are different ways of looking at "elitism", I think.
I think here you're referring a lot to "elitism" as in the sense of "title-related elitism", such as "I'm the boss, so you listen to me", which is the most annoying and possibly most damaging in terms of actual result.

That could be one interpretation and it is annoying. No, I'm referring to the idea below.

But if "elitism" were to mean "the best performer, and the one's who's shown to be most experienced has more status / weight in the decision making", then we would to a different type of system that would probably out-perform the perfectly egalitarian system.

Have you watched "I am"?  It's a really cool movie. I recommend it to you. It's worth your time. He goes around to understand the root cause of all problems. I'm curious about what you will think about it.

It's not about the weight in decision-making, that is what experts do. Yes, we want experts to have more weight in decision-making in their area of expertise. There's no debate around that. The tension is about the rewards of the production? How do you distribute the rewards? And that is my point. An equalitarian system maximizes better happiness of most people by distributing more evenly the reward. Instead of having one performer with all the money, you distribute it.

The tension is about the rewards of the production? How do you distribute the rewards? And that is my point. An equalitarian system maximizes better happiness of most people by distributing more evenly the reward.

Oh, OK, so it's about the redistribution as a consequence of the value, at a societal level.

Yeah, definitely.

I'm personally thorn between the two systems.
I also very much prefer more equalitarian societies, and yet don't think it's fair to give to those who produce nothing (=give nothing) and just consume (= take).

I'm talking about those cases of welfare receivers who spend that money to drink, smoke, and won't wanna work not even when a job is available.

But otherwise, yes, more equalitarian societies tend to be safer and easier to live in, and it tends to take out the best in people, since there is less of a social climbing mindset, and less of a "dog eat dog" attitude in the people.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I also very much prefer more equalitarian societies, and yet don't think it's fair to give to those who produce nothing (=give nothing) and just consume (= take).

That's the cons of these societies. No society is perfect. However, when you look at those people, they're not really enjoying life. I mean not like you and me. We have our struggles, we f##k up, we succeed, we lose. But they just sleepwalk through life. It gives me the chill. So I don't envy them at all. It does not solve the problem you talked about, but I don't envy them. So I don't think it's desirable to do that for personal fullfilment.

The problem you talked about I think is embedded in these kinds of system, there is no mitigation of it. At least not much that I know of. I mean no mitigation strong enough that it discourages this behavior for it not to happen. You have to live with a certain amount of parasitism and do your best not to be one of them

Here is the Swiss way to mitigate that: shame. In Switzerland, very few people do that. It's not like Belgium, France or UK where there is a whole category of people doing that. The even got a name: Chavs (UK), Baraki (Belgium). Low-class people taking advantage of social welfare. More kids = more money.

But otherwise, yes, more equalitarian societies tend to be safer and easier to live in, and it tends to take out the best in people, since there is less of a social climbing mindset, and less of a "dog eat dog" attitude in the people.

I'm glad we agree on this. 🙂

It reminds me of Stockholm, Sweden. A friend of mine lives there. We went ice-skiing on an ice rink. And it's volunteers who help you use the ice skates that you attach to your regular shoes. And these volunteers are in the cold, are bent over with knees on the ground to help you put the ice skates on. And it's free. It's a service that's given by volunteers. You don't have to pay. You use them and give them back. And there was this old man. He was maybe 65-70 years old and he had this big warm smile. He was very tall. I'm sure he was a leader in his community, family and/or job. A dominant man. But very warm. And he spent so much time to help me with the ice skates because it was not working properly. He was patient. And he was smiling and laughing and talking to me in English. And I was in his country, just a tourist, just a foreigner. And that's the gift he gave me. He taught me a lesson on attitude about life this day on top of good fun.

That is what I respect a lot in nordic people. This attitude. Not all are like that but many are.

I grew up in a leftist family in a leftist city in Switzerland. A city of workers. And that's what makes these places great: the sharing. When you enjoy something on your own in your little corner. Your ferrari, etc. you're not having half of the fun than sharing a meal of spaghettis with friends. It's good, I'm not saying it is not. But that does not replace the human bonding with good people. There is no substitute for that. And elitist societies pushes us away from this. Away from the family, away from the tribe. And I think it's damaging to our humanity. I'm digressing now but this is what I believe.

I'm not considering myself a leftist, but the idea that you can make it on your own and that you don't need other people is silly. And that's the danger of the elitist mindset. I fell for it and I'm healing from it. And I'm much happier!

Edit: in "I am" there is a woo-woo moment with some experiments, just ignore it. It's the development and the conclusion which are intellectually powerful.

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