The chapter I’m working on now is the one about rent. Smith’s analysis of rent is, in fact, what first led me to read this book and try to understand it, and this stuff is murder. I’m working on it. I’ll do a post when I’ve finished this read-through, but as of right now, I expect to conclude that I’m just as confused as when I started.
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P.S. Not that complacency is bad, perse. It’s just better in my opinion to be aware of the truth, and then decide to be complacent about it (because there’s not a lot you actively plan to do about it) than it is to be caught up in a lie and hence forced into the complacency that comes with it. Complacency = comfort, (the illusion of) security, conceitedness, etc.
Chaos is where we live. But we have become expert at shaping the Chaos into Order so that we can live more or less predictable, safe lies (heh, I meant to type ‘lives’ but typoed the v. I’ll leave it in, though, serendipity ought to be encouraged). In fact, we’ve gotten so good at it, that we don’t even really need to actually shape Chaos into Order anymore. We’re can render ourselves content and safe by just pretending to now.
I think what you’ll find if you understand it is that you have a more diverse arsenal of arguments as to why rent is just human nature engaged in auto-self-repression, which, when viewed from various standpoints, will fit into whatever psycho/sociological theories a given person happens to have. In your case, I imagine it will confirm your belief that the elitists are punishing and oppressing the proletariat. I can’t remember who it was who said “when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
In the end, it comes down to the fact that we have seem to have an instinct to behave the way we do, to hoard resources etc without realizing or spending too much time considering that what we hoard doesn’t come from nowhere–that someone had to work to produce it, and likely, they weren’t paid very much for their product.
This has been going on since the dawn of civilization. It’s going to take more than reading a book to change it. In fact, I’m reasonably well-convinced that it cannot be changed by any active human agency.
We have bought into the social contract. Whether out of fear, or doubt, or faith, or opportunistic desire, or whatever else, we have bought into it, more or less irrevocably. Unfortunately, like every other contract out there, if you look close enough, you’ll find that there are loopholes, and means by which the savvy and unscrupulous can take advantage of the investment of others into the system. Our laws are predicated around defining the contract and its loopholes, and ostensibly are put in place to either correct, limit, or deter from abusing those loopholes.
Of course it’s obvious that one of those loopholes is “whoever writes the laws can get a real nice setup going for himself until he’s caught”.
I think your books are the best thing since sliced bread, and they’re going to give sliced bread a run for their money, too. But, while not being a fatalist, and not even that quiescent, I think that activism is 99% of the time fruitless. And I can hardly convince myself that the 1% is worth suffering through the 99%.
I swear to god, I have seen real protests that are protesting the lack of something to protest (though I doubt the protesters saw it that way).
There are other vectors through which real, meaningful, pervasive social change can arise in our society. Activism, when it works at all, usually works towards complicating, and not simplifying our society.
In the end (which is the second end here :P) reading books, going to university, whatever, it all just sharpens your mind and allows you to see more clearly through the convenient little lies that we tell ourselves to render ourselves complacent. The lies that others tell us are relatively easy to see through; they’re hardly worth spending serious thought on. It’s the lies that we tell ourselves that are a doozy to defeat.
If you’re interested, I’d *love* arguing with you over email.
Jon, loyal Brustian fanatic :D
P.P.S (retroactive) I put a post-scriptum onto my previewed first post, essentially replacing it with its own addendum. Bah :P