Sunday, April 17, 2011

Some remarks on hierarchies, power and justice

Why is economic equality is essential and why are our hierarchic professional structures (which are , more importantly, power structures), along with other power structures, and unjust?

The argument of these powers is that each class that is occupied by a person – from the most drudged of scavenger to the businessman or bureaucrat – the person has found as per mechanisms of social life that are just and unquestionable. Some claim that these mechanisms are within law. Some that they are open, free and hence merit-driven. For them, however low they might be in the order, there is always a chance to rise up.

However, the mechanisms of social life are not prior to people. They have been created and changed by people, and passed on from time to time. And most importantly, they are not free because those at the top have the need and the power to maintain the drudge conditions at the bottom. In fact, the free circuit they seek to offer as theory is a euphemism for a regulated and relentlessly drudge environment they have imposed on those below which offers very little. This imposition itself contradicts any possibility of freedom or choice beyond the options given, or to be more descriptive, imposed. Suppose manual construction labourers were to enjoy a life-style, if not similar to the people they build homes for, but at least to those who have secure homes and incomes enough to take care of basic nutrition and good health and things they would like to do for a better life, just imagine how much more their contractors would have to pay them. Is it any surprise then that these contractors bank upon the labour of migrants and the poorer slum-dwellers who are desperate and cannot make demands for better lives? A govt. that wants to save money, but also save face, deputes its conservancy jobs to private contractors, who, by reason of laws it can hide behind, must neither worry about saving face or nor about the conditions of those they employ.

The argument isn't that a society preaching freedom and justice must stick to it, so that another which has established that these ought to be curtailed in one way or another is free to do so. We've already seen that happening in monarchies, oligarchies and dictatorships, and in each case which now belongs to the past, the argument for force has been put down by a more basic principle for freedom. In fact, the ideas of our own present society increasingly tend towards restriction and curtailment. While conditions are morbid for those down the ladder, even those somewhere in the middle who are convinced that they are heading upwards will find it difficult to stretch their legs, to question the diktats of power without falling off. The only justification to this mechanism is that one may have accepted and even enjoys this state of affairs, but then, that justification also exists in and for slave societies. In fact, bigger societies are always slow to change due to such conditions, give the tedium of expanse and the puny local nature of unrest. But the onus of questioning only becomes heavier by this reason. It is unmistakable that power be questioned.

April 16th, 2011

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